Landowners: Help save wildlife from cruelty - Keep hunters off your land

Make it known publicly that your land is off-limits to hunters. Place a preservation notice in your local newspaper now. Below is a sample preservation notice which you may wish to use.

Preservation Notice Sample

Take notice that all my lands at [Insert address(es) of land] are private and preserved day and night. All forms of hunting and shooting are strictly prohibited. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Signed [Insert name(s) of landowner]

Note: Regardless of whether or not you publish a preservation notice, hunters have no right to enter privately-owned lands without permission. It is unacceptable for them to claim that they didn't know that your lands are private and preserved. However, many landowners choose to publish a preservation notice to make it abundantly clear to hunters that they are not allowed to enter the land.

The information on this page, primarily relates to Ireland. If you are a landowner in the UK, please visit www.houndsoff.co.uk for relevant information.

Videos: Farmers and landowners

Landowners and hunts
(Duration: 03:36)
The truth about foxes
(Duration: 02:22)

"No Hunting" signs: please print and display

No hunting poster Poster - No Hunters, No Hounds No hunting poster No hunting poster
Attention landowners: please download and display our "No Hunting" posters and close your entire property to hunts now. The posters are available in A4 and unmissable A3 sizes. More...

Keeping hunts off your land

10 reasons to keep hunters off your land
Why you should keep hunters out and how to do it.

ICABS advice to farmers and other landowners
Practical steps you can take to keep hunts out

Photo gallery
Images showing the damage hunts can cause to farmland in Ireland

Farmers Against Foxhunting And Trespass
Anti-hunt farming group which campaigns against hunt trespass

Hunting club must pay €4,000 compensation over injured bull
Irish Examiner report

Member of hunt fined 3,000 Euro after hounds worry livestock
Connaught Tribune report

"No Hunting" Signs
Warning signs to print and display on your property

Message from the Department of Agriculture
Keep hunts out of livestock fields

Farmer "angry that a hunt came across his land without permission"
Liveline, 26th February 2010 (mp3, 6 Mb)

A farmer's views on foxhunting
by Dick Power

More to hunts than misery to wildlife
Report on the significant risks foxhunting poses to Irish farmers

Foxes not a major cause of lamb losses
An article about the damage caused to land by hunters on horseback as well as the diseases spread by foxhounds.

Fighting for a sanctuary
A landowner’s struggle to keep hunters out

Hunt Trespass Leaflet
How to keep hunters off your land

Facts about sheep mortality
The truth about lamb and sheep mortality

Foxhunt, cattle liver fluke link
A letter to the editor

Keeping hunts out: ICABS advice to farmers and other landowners

Unless hunters hold sporting rights to hunt on your property (this is not usually the case but if so, it will be specified on the title deeds to the property), neither they nor their dogs have a right to trespass on your property.

Under the Control of Dogs Act (www.irishstatutebook.ie/1986/en/act/pub/0032/print.html) dogs must be kept "under effectual control" so if hunt hounds come on to property where they do not have permission to be, this would be an offence and the Gardai should be notified. (If possible, take photos or video footage to prove it took place). If trespass occurs by members of the hunt, the Gardai should be notified as well.

Sometimes hunts will say something like "we go where the dogs go" or "we didn't know we weren't allowed to enter your property" but this is not acceptable. If they didn't receive permission to enter the property, they should not be there.

Contact the Gardai also if there is a breach of Section 44 of the Wildlife Act. This makes it an offence for any person who is not the owner or occupier of land to carry onto that land, without permission, any firearm, net, or other weapon, instrument or device capable of being used for hunting a wild bird or a wild animal.

It is also an offence for any such person to use a "firearm, trap, snare, net, line, hook, arrow, dart or spear, or a similar device, instrument or missile calculated or likely to cause death or bodily injury to any wild bird or wild mammal coming in contact with it" to "hunt a wild bird or wild animal on the land or moves or drives such a bird or such an animal off the land in order so to hunt it".

For more details, please see
The Wildlife Act 1976
www.irishstatutebook.ie/1976/en/act/pub/0039/print.html#sec44 and
The Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000
www.irishstatutebook.ie/2000/en/act/pub/0038/print.html#sec50

Farmers affected by hunt trespass may wish to contact the Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass organisation which offers advice to landowners. Their chairman, Philip Lynch, can be reached at 056-7725309.

Please also see the Irish Council Against Blood Sports information leaflet, Troubled by the Hunt.

Message from the Department of Agriculture

"The organisers of foxhunts require the permission of landowners on whose land they wish to hold the event. A farmer whose lands are restricted should not give such consent and in the normal course should not allow foxhunts to traverse fields with livestock." (Department of Agriculture, August 2003).

A Farmer's Views on Foxhunting
by ICABS Director, Dick Power

[Dick Power]

Why do I, a farmer, oppose foxhunting and blood sports in general? In response to the many queries I received and continue to receive, I write these lines.

Quite a few septuagenarians with whom I used to associate remember my expertise with shotgun and rifle, and they remember meeting me at coursing fixtures, to which I was first introduced as a boy of nine years.

After marrying a hunting lady in the mid-Fifties, I accompanied her to hunt meets and began to take a close interest in that activity and to join her therein. For that reason I was watching the hunt from the hill on our farm on a February afternoon of the late fifties. Very clearly I saw the fox running east, just outside our boundary. To make a long story short, the hunted animal acted strangely, made a U-turn and was killed on the farm adjoining ours. I well recall the yells of one of the hunters as she urged the hounds along. To my ears they sounded like "Hip, hooray!".

Later I discovered that their victim was what in hunting jargon is called a "bagman", a fox released from a sack into covert before the arrival of hounds.

On St. Patrick's Day 1959, as I cut kale for cows, I heard the cry or tongue of hounds as the hunt approached. Having heard that a "bagman" was awaiting release for the great occasion, I left my garden and ran towards the "tally-ho", hoping to save the fleeing quarry which could have saved its life in the earth on my farm, had the creature known of its whereabouts. This fugitive also made a U-turn in a vain bid to shake off the hounds, fleeing as it did so into full view of a hunting priest who had separated from the main body of riders, leading me to think that my luck was in; that I had on my land a man of compassion who would help me in what I sought to do. How unlearned I was on that day of shamrock and harp almost forty years ago!

Mindless sub-humanity

"Look at him!" he roared on sighting the fleeing fox. He then began to howl and caper like a savage "in a state of almost mindless sub-humanity" as a famous philosopher once said, to urge the hounds in pursuit of quarry. At that point I began to "give tongue". Quite a task it was to get him to halt. "Do you know that you are hunting a bagman?", I asked. To my astonishment he replied: "What about it? Sure, 'tis only sport anyway. Aren't they all doing it now?"

What I, a hot-tempered young man in those days said to him, I'll not set down here but I think it is true to say that the "sermon" from the saddle had a profound effect on me, making me study Church history to find out why blood sports had so many "dog-collared luminaries" - as the late Malcolm Muggeridge called them - and how a priest could defend a "sadistic pastime for the privileged" as my late friend and ex-hunt master, Robert Churchward, called it; how a priest could make such unchristian, unpriestly reply.

In his book, "These Animals of Ours", the late Fr Aloysius Roche tells us that all the early Synods and Councils imposed severe penalties on clerics who engaged in blood sports. This is outlined in the chapter headed Pagan Survivals.

Those barbarians in Holy Orders said Mass with their spurs on, their hunting daggers in their belts, their horses saddled and ready outside church. Immediately after Mass, they rode off to hunt. Do blood sports' "dog-collared luminaries" of our time know that they follow a trend set by barbarians - not shepherds but robbers, bent on their own interests? Do they know that the "tradition" to which they have wed themselves has nothing to do with Christianity, except its repudiation?

Dog-collared dalteen

In the late 1930s when two farmer brothers ordered a hunt off their farm, they were bitterly attacked by whom my informant called a "dog-collared dalteen" who was among the hunt riders. That priest was my cousin and my namesake. Indeed, I was threatened with a "telling off" from him circa 1960. May he rest in peace.

Vatican 2 teaches as follows: "People are edified by priests whose portment reflects the sublimity of their vocation...Priests at times take part in amusements which are out of harmony with a profession of Christian virtue. Catholic people expect something better from their priests, even people who themselves may not be very proper in their own conduct. The urgent need of priests is a return to and a revival of the supernatural in their lives."

As the late Dr Jebb used to say, the tally ho teams welcome the clergyman as "an invaluable acquisition".

God gave man dominion of His creatures, did He not? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that our dominion over the creatures is not absolute; that it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation (paragraph 2415). We are also reminded of the harmony that there was between the first couple and all creation (paragraph 376).

But what of the claim that foxes kill lambs and poultry? They take dead or dying lambs it is true, but very rarely kill healthy lambs from healthy ewes. The best defence of foxes I've read was written by the farmer who won the UK Lambing Competition in 1962. From research over a period of 20 years on his own farm and ten others, involving post mortems on 200 lambs and inspection of mother ewes of missing lambs, he proved that not foxes, but bad shepherding, was the cause of lamb losses. His article was supplied to me by the late Robert Churchward, ex-hunt master turned "anti".

No quarrel

With foxes I have no quarrel. Without hesitation, I'll save hunted foxes from their persecutors - "dog-collared" or otherwise. "Cur me persequeris? (Why do you persecute me?)".

The hunters? Yes, they've given much trouble to me and others. The hunt is a very serious threat to the well-being of livestock and to the farmer's livelihood. The hunt has played a big part in the spread of that dreadful disease, BHU, which has caused very serious losses to farmers, hunts have been blamed for spreading brucellosis, trichinosis, sarcosystosis, etc.

For those who want a good ride on horseback there is the drag hunt in which the trail can be laid so as to keep well away from flocks, herds and slurry-covered fields. Why the reluctance to turn to it? It fails to satisfy the desire to punish a fellow creature, the desire to put death in the place of life.

ICABS Congratulates Farmers

In their "Leave Country Sports Alone" leaflet, the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association concede that "without the co-operation of the farming community, hunting would cease to exist altogether."

We agree entirely and that is why the part of our campaign that deals with helping farmers to keep hunters off their land is ongoing. Throughout the hunting season, ICABS distributes numerous copies of our Troubled by the Hunt leaflet. We advise farmers on the best course of action to take to protect their land and livestock from hunters.

We have the greatest of empathy for farmers who are being plagued by hunters and who have to waste time being on constant alert for incidents of trespass. The presence of foxhunters can prove extremely distressing for farmers, particularly when damage is done to precious pastures and fencing or when livestock is disturbed and even killed.

The "Troubled by the Hunt" information leaflet is a step by step guide to the best route to take when hunters start posing a threat to your livelihood. Firstly recommended is the publication of a preservation notice in the local newspaper and the sending of a formal warning to the hunt master that any invasion by hunters and/or hounds will be viewed as a trespass. We also stress the importance of gathering evidence of trespasses either on film or video tape. This can prove very important if and when the matter is brought before the courts.

Farmers want to keep their property off-limits to hunters for a number of reasons. These include the damage caused by packs of horses and hounds - a field of grass can be turned into a hoof-marked mess in a matter of minutes; a field being used to keep livestock in can instantly become unsuitable when a hunt, ploughing through hedges and over fences, leaves openings for livestock to wander out. Livestock can also be worried by hunt hounds and the sudden presence of hunters on horseback, resulting in, for example, pregnant animals having miscarriages. Another threat posed to farmers by the hunt is the fact that foxhounds are known to be carriers of infectious parasites which can prove fatal if passed onto farm animals.

Encouraging

It has been extremely encouraging to note that at the start of the last hunting season, there has been an apparent increase in the number of preservation notices appearing in local papers around Ireland.

The message to hunters in these notices is clear - stay off our land or face prosecution. Here is a list of some of the messages found in local papers from around the country: "Lands preserved for the protection of wildlife, livestock and fences; no foxhunting", "No shooting or hunting for the protection of sheep and wildlife", "No foxhunting. Trespassers will be prosecuted", "Hunting on horseback or on foot forbidden", "Lands preserved from all forms of hunting and shooting", "Lands Preserved - Protection of Sheep", "Our land is designated as a wildlife sanctuary - hunting strictly prohibited", "Lands are strictly preserved for protection of livestock - no hunting or shooting allowed; trespassers prosecuted", "No foxhunting allowed", "No trespass by hounds or horses", "No trespassing; no exceptions", "No hunting all year round", "No hunting or shooting of any description allowed", "Lands preserved for the protection of livestock; no shooting or greyhounds allowed", "Lands preserved for the protection of sheep", "Land preserved for the protection of livestock and fencing, no foxhunting, harriers or shooting", "Land preserved for the protection of livestock and fences; no harriers or foxhounds."

A massive notice that appeared in the Limerick Leader was a particularly welcome sight. The notice, stating that "hunting on horseback and beagle hunting is strictly forbidden on our lands" was signed by over 60 landowners.

ICABS invites all farmers who are experiencing problems with the hunt to contact us in confidence - we will give you the best advice that we can give. We thank and congratulate all the farmers and landowners who have been in touch with us in the recent past and who have taken steps to help reduce hunting grounds and speed up the demise of foxhunting with hounds.

Fighting for a sanctuary
A landowner’s struggle to keep hunters out

It’s a bright Sunday morning in late February 2001 and it’s at times like this that one feels lucky to live in the country.

However, on this spring morning that sense of calm was to be broken by the shouts of beagle hunters and the sounds of their hounds as they began to once again engage in their so called sport. Yet again a mixture of fear and deep anger was to fill me.

I live in south County Cavan. Beagle hunting has been taking place in these parts for as long as I can remember. Its followers will tell you they have hunted this way all their lives and in some areas it has been a tradition in many families for generations.

When I was a young boy the hunt would come around on many Sundays. The hunters used to stand on the high ground on our land to gain a grandstand view of the hunt.

However, even then we found a negative side to this activity. Hedges and fences were frequently damaged as hunters crossed our lands. Farmers tolerated these people more than welcomed them on to their property. At that time the cruel side of this “sport” had not yet drawn my attention.

In 1998 when my lands were planted in forestry I made the decision to ban hunting on the property. Firstly this was to prevent damage to the newly erected fencing. However, I had also become increasingly uneasy with the whole concept of using animals in cruel sports. I felt now was the opportunity to stop hunting altogether by barring hounds from entering the land.

beagle running through forested field
A hunt beagle runs through the forested sanctuary.

I placed a notice in the local Anglo-Celt newspaper clearly stating that my lands were preserved from all hunting activity.

On a Sunday during the winter of 1998-99 the hunt arrived in the area. They were clearly aware that my land was preserved because they were very careful not to enter the land themselves. They took up position on a hill on a neighbour’s farm looking on to my farm as their hounds gave chase to a hare through my land.

One huntsman was seen encouraging hounds through a gateway into the sanctuary. This for me was a turning point. I resolved never again would such actions go unchallenged.

Last season a hunting group who would not normally hunt this area entered the lands. After confronting this group they agreed not to return. However, the other hunt have continued to hunt close by despite my repeated requests that they keep an acceptable distance away to prevent their hounds entering the sanctuary.

On November 24th last I discovered the hunt had arrived close to my lands again. Later that day I confronted a huntsman as he was leaving. I was verbally abused and assaulted by this individual and I reported the incident to the Gardaí. The hunt made a return visit to the area just one week later as if to show contempt for my wishes.

two beagles running through sanctuary
Two hunt beagles on the scent of their quarry in the wildlife sanctuary.

As I was driving down the road later that day I encountered a hare running towards me in the middle of the roadway. I drove on and met a young man walking and I asked him was he hunting. He said he was and that they were doing no harm. I replied that they were terrorising the hares. He said “ah sure the hares love to be hunted”. I asked him if they had told him so.

It is disturbing that hunters disregard the wishes of landowners in this way. Every year numerous notices are placed in local newspapers stating that lands are preserved but clearly, in the majority of cases, these wishes are ignored. These good people are left with a choice of doing nothing or going about the task of confronting the hunters personally. I eventually choose the latter and have encountered the wrath of the local hunt fraternity.

I sincerely hope more landowners will actively stand up for their rights and take action. The support I have received from ICABS has been an encouragement to me to continue with my efforts.

Sean Galligan


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