Sligo farmer threatens to shoot any dogs that come onto his land, even if they're on leads
The farmer is "patrolling" roads close to his home with a double-barrelled shotgun, threatening to shoot dogs that are accompanying hillwalkers.
North Sligo farmer Andy 'The Bull' McSharry has said he will shoot any dogs that are found on his land, even if they're on a leash. This remark follows recent incidents where sheep have been killed by dogs in the area.
Mr McSharry lives in the Gleniff Horseshoe area, a location that's popular with hillwalkers .
In an interview with the North West Today Show on Ocean FM, Mr McSharry said that he will be patrolling the roads around his home with a double-barrelled shotgun, warning dog owners that he would shoot any dogs that were found on his land.
Mr McSharry said this action followed two recent sheep kills in the area, something he had not experienced before.
"The first kill started on 8 October and another on 30 December. A number of sheep have been killed and the farming community are on guard in an effort to stop this. At the best of times, farmers are finding it hard to survive. Losses like that mean that the bank balance is not going good for us," he said.
Mr McSharry told the radio show that he has seen an increase in the amount of people that are walking their dogs without leashes on the road. On that note, he warned that he'll shoot any dogs that are worrying sheep while reminding hillwalkers of their responsibilities with dogs.
"This last year and a half, there's an awful lot of people walking on the public roads with their dogs, without leads. That's a problem. There's also another problem that people are bringing their dogs to the hills. At the time, the same people thought they had the right to roam. Now they want to fight the issue seemingly to roam for their dogs."
"Since Wednesday, I'm on the roads carrying my legal double-barrel shotgun and I'm meeting these people and advising them. I'll do that for a month or so but action will be taken against these dogs, particularly the dogs that come onto my land. If the dog is on the lead, the dog will still be shot," he said.
When asked if that's the exact reason why he's carrying a shotgun while talking to hillwalkers, he said "Correct, correct. That is what's happening. It's like all the issues that are going on there, it was something that's overlooked."
He then talked about a recent incident where he approached one woman with her dog. At the time, Mr McSharry was informed that this woman had no leash with her. She then asked him what she should do.
"I told her to pick up her dog, it was about twice the size of a cat, and put it into her arms and leave it back in her car. I watched her putting it into her car and she treated that little dog like it was a piece of china. Well, I think my sheep are as good as china as well," he said.
"At the end of the day, you have to highlight the issue. The problem isn't going to go away. I'm here also to try and solve it. The job has to be done because if you look at the farming groups down the years, they will give a quick warning. I don't think a quick warning is the solution anymore. There are more dogs coming into Gleniff and we need proper signage and the people need to know what the country code is. Certainly about dogs without leads."
Mr McSharry elaborated on the financial losses that farmers are incurring due to the death of their livestock- one farmer suffered losses of €380- and that he's taking this action in an effort to give "the caution in time, hoping to put a stop to it and calling on farmers to put a stop to this."
He also claimed that local farmers were culpable when it comes to their own dogs.
When asked if this issue is the responsibility of the IFA, or any other organisations, he said: "Like anything in this country - health issues and such - someone has to stand out. It's a new year, I've been quiet now for too long. I'm happy with what I'm at, but unfortunately, it's not a nice thing to say but certainly I intend to make my mark this year because it's one that needs to be looked after."
Mr McSharry previously served some time in Castlerea prison after being convicted of issuing threats to hillwalkers on his land.
During that particular incident, he disputed the rights of hillwalkers to use his land. The issue was resolved in 2009.
You can listen to his whole interview here.