Farmers in Ireland are claiming that the once-rare pine martens are now getting “out of control” and they fear for their livestock.
Padraig Brady, a sheep farmer and north Longford Fine Gael representative, told the Irish Independent that a pine marten recently killed two of his lambs and injured three others, causing a significant financial loss.
"Nobody really cares about what they're costing the farmer, I didn't need to lose that money.
"Neighbours around me have lots more sheep and their losses are phenomenal. ¤800 worth of pheasants were killed down the road," he said.
"They're out of control in our area. They're in people's dust bins in the villages looking for food. They've been sighted three at a time," he said.
He says he believes the animal, which is a protected species with no predator, is multiplying in heavily afforested counties.
"A woman went out to pick her eggs one morning and a pine marten was in the box where he'd the chicken killed. She put in her hand and he bit her. She had to get a tetanus shot," said Brady.
Local representatives have told the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the problem, but they claim the issue has "fallen on deaf ears.”
"The authorities have to accept that the pine marten is causing serious problems. There is one in every 10 or 15 acres, it's all over the place. Farmers are already struggling to survive without this problem," said Brady.
He said communities are worried that a child could be attacked while opening a bin.
"It might never happen but I'm just saying that is the scenario that we're dealing with on a weekly basis," he said.
Local representatives are calling for the protection order to be lifted and for an urgent cull of the species.
Funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, researchers at Waterford IT are currently conducting a population survey of the species, The Irish Independent reports that the results are expected later this year.