Call for pine marten to be taken off protected species register

Several Longford County Councillors have asked for a review of the pine marten's protected status. Photo: Maurice Flynn
The Government is to be asked to lift a protected species order on one of the “biggest scourges” affecting farmers right across County Longford.

The Government is to be asked to lift a protected species order on one of the “biggest scourges” affecting farmers right across County Longford.

Several councillors have spoken of the need to review the embargo on the native pine marten - one of the rarest and most elusive wildlife species in Ireland.

Many, led by Fine Gael Cllr John Duffy, raised their concerns at last week’s County Council meeting.

He said he had encountered the dark brown-coloured mammal on more than one occasion himself, saying the time had come for their protected species status to be lifted.

“They have become a serious scourge,” he said.

“They are one of the cutest things, but they are also one of the boldest things, too.

“They are a protected species, but I feel that protection should be lifted.”

Cllr Duffy said he believed the pine marten should be likened to vermin, such was their destructive nature in rural areas.

Adult pine marten typically grow to the size of a domestic cat and have a long tail that can be half the length of their body

Cllr PJ Reilly said he, too, had come across the tree-climbing species in Abbeylara, where a number of young cygnets had fallen victim to the pine marten.

Fine Gael Cllr Colm Murray followed suit, revealing how the loss of 15 pheasants on a road outside Moydow was similarly being blamed on the pine marten.

Arguably the most outspoken of those present was Cllr Paraic Brady.

The Granard Municipal Cathaoirleach even went as far as suggesting pine martens had taken to setting up home in attics and garages.

“He (pine marten) is like a rodent, but nobody can harm him,” he said.

“They have caused any amount of problems for the Gun Club in north Longford.

“Not only are they doing damage to birds, but they are affecting sheep now and they are even nesting in people’s homes now, too.”