Groups of wild campers on mountainsides, posing a risk of fire, are among the issues that are causing concern to landowners, according to a survey underway by The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).
The Association has published preliminary results from a survey it is currently conducting with its membership on public access.
The survey has highlighted the vulnerable position many landowners are in when it comes to dealing with members of the public looking to access their lands.
National Vice President INHFA, Pheilim Molloy says while the majority of farmers (60%) have not received abuse, they are very concerned about the sizable minority who have been abused and felt threatened.
Colourful language and aggressive behaviour from walkers when asked to not bring their dogs is among the concerns highlighted, with some farmers told in no uncertain terms that their dog would not bother sheep and to “mind their own business.”
Even more concerning, he says are the direct threats made against farmers by some hill walkers.
Another issue that featured quite prominently in the responses were thrill seekers with off-road vehicles such as scrambler bikes, quads and all terrain 4x4’s. Some of these people, he says see hill land as their playground and are quite willing to smash gates, tear down fences and destroy pathways with no regard for the landowners or the habitats that farmers are trying to protect.
Phelim has been telling Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley more about the survey’s findings to date…