There are rising fears among farmers and landowners over increased hare-poaching around South Kerry, which has now led to an alleged assault on a man in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the alleged assault that is understood to have occurred when he confronted hare-poachers on his land, at the weekend.
The group of men fled the scene after throwing a rock at the man, when he came out of his house, resulting in him receiving a cut that had to be stitched.
Though not seriously injured the incident had led to increased fears in the rural community in Dromid, near Waterville, where the incident has occurred about hare-poaching in the region.
The local Waterville Community Alert Group, which is very active alerted the community to the incident and has encouraged anyone who notes suspicious vehicles in the region, often with small trailers for the hares to alert the gardaí.
It is understood the group fled after the alleged assault, on foot, abandoning their vehicle in the area. This has been impounded by local gardaí.
No arrests have been made in the investigation but Superintendent Flor Murphy has reassured the public that a full investigation is underway into the assault and the illegal hare-netting.
Local councillor Norma Moriarty said that such incidents of illegal hare-trapping have increased and signs have been erected on lands on the Iveragh Peninsula warning against trespassing on local lands for to catch hares.
She said she is aware of other similar incidents where farmers have spotted hare poachers on their lands, though luckily no assault took place. However it is believed farmers have been threatened for reporting such incidents. She is urging everyone to report any suspicious activity in the region to local gardaí.
It is understood that the gang were also spotted in another location, close to Waterville village on the same night.
Chairman of Kerry IFA, Pat O’Driscoll said that hare-trapping is problematic across the county and has increased in the Iveragh peninsula.
“We are telling our members to report suspicious activity in the region.”
The IFA has met with local gardaí in relation to their concerns.
Coursing clubs have a license to trap hares for use, but they must be released after a coursing meeting. Illegal trappers however catch the hares without a license .
Legislation banning hare coursing has been introduced in the Dáil but has not been passed into law. The Green party has attempted to introduce such a ban into the programme for Government but were unsuccessful.