Wicklow gardaí are waiting on reports from the Department of Agriculture and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in relation to reported sheep shooting activity in the county, according to Wicklow IFA.

Gardaí in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, encouraged the Wicklow IFA to share the information with its members last week.

The guided trophy hunting tours for domestic sheep, as first reported by the Irish Farmers Journal, have received significant backlash from farmers in the area.

Wicklow IFA chair Tom Byrne said that gardaí looking at the case are waiting for two reports from the Department and NPWS following their initial investigations and that these will determine the next steps they take.

Stone sheep

In a promotional video seen by this paper, an American tourist is seen revelling in the opportunity to stalk and shoot what are described to him as “wild Irish stone sheep”.

The sheep, viewable in the video as they are shot, are domestic Jacob sheep. Several stakeholders have confirmed there is no such “wild stone sheep” in Ireland.

The US tourist also describes Ireland as a great country to be able to get guns into. The individual seen shooting the sheep is facilitated by hunting guides in Wicklow. The party is seen walking through fields of cattle and shooting from grazed ground.

The US embassy in Ireland declined to comment on the activity of this individual or potential concerns they might have on other US tourists paying large sums of money to shoot what they believe to be “wild Irish stone sheep” when no such sheep exist.

Tourists are guided by Irish hunting guides for the sheep shooting activity.

Action required

It is understood there is what has been described as a “ring of individuals” involved in the Wicklow sheep shooting activity. The Irish Farmers Journal has sought and has been declined comment from a haulier allegedly involved in transporting sheep to Wicklow for the intention of being shot in this way.

Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Farmers Association vice chair Peter Behan said farmers in the area want “serious action taken for this significant animal welfare issue that tarnishes our own good reputation”.

It is understood Behan and fellow farmers in the county continue to “keep the pressure” on Department officials and gardaí in relation to the case.

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