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Farmers warned of cattle-theft threat


Six bullocks stolen from south Mayo field

Anton McNulty

A SENIOR IFA official has called on farmers to be aware of the increased threat of cattle thefts after six bullocks, worth almost €10,000, were stolen from a field in south Mayo.
The six two-and-half-year-old Limousin and Charolais-cross bullocks belonging to Shrule farmers John and Niamh Reilly were stolen from a field located at Knocknageehe, between Cross and Kilmaine, some time between Monday night, October 5, and Tuesday morning, October 6.
The couple highlighted the theft on social media, and the farming community was alerted to the theft by the IFA through text-messaging systems.
The cattle were discovered almost 30km away, near Balla, on Friday night by a farmer who became suspicious of men unloading the cattle. The men fled the scene when challenged, and the cattle were later identified as those belonging to the Reilly’s.
Current IFA Rural Development Executive member and Glencorrib farmer Michael Biggins said every farmer in the country was relieved to hear the cattle were recovered. He told The Mayo News that thefts of this kind are very rare, but it demonstrated that farmers have to be aware of the threat.
“Farmers all around the country were delighted they were found because if that kind of thing was to creep in it would be an extra worry for farmers and their families.
“In fairness, we have a great tracking system in the Department of Agriculture, and you would hope that there would be no outlet for [stolen cattle], but you never know what unscrupulous people would take them.
“When someone steals something they usually have a home for it, and some people are forever trying to circumvent a system no matter what it is. It would be an extra worry if cattle would start going missing. It would be a huge impact on any farmer’s income to have six two-and-half-year-old cattle go. If that started a trend it would be worrying,” the former Mayo IFA Chairman said.

‘Too hot to handle’
Gardaí in Claremorris investigating the theft are appealing to anyone who may have observed transport vehicles in the vicinity of Shrule between 5pm on October 5 and 4pm on October 6 or at Balla on the evening of Friday, October 9, to make contact with them.
Anyone who noticed transportation of livestock in these areas on the relevant dates, or noticed the loading of livestock in Shrule or the unloading of cattle at Balla, is asked to come forward. In particular, Gardaí wish to speak to anyone who may have video or dash-cam footage.
Mr Biggins praised the Reilly family for getting the word of the theft out quickly. He  believes the cattle became ‘too hot to handle’ for the culprits because the farming community was made aware of the theft.
While he said he would not like to see padlocked gates into fields becoming the norm he does feel farmers have to take steps to ensure it is too difficult for thieves to target their farms. He also believes that farmers must be more aware of unusual activity and report things before they happen.
“It is something farmers have to become much more aware that there are people who are fit to do this. People have to become more aware and security conscious. It is bad enough having to keep an eye on farm yards but now have to keep an eye on fields as well. It is just another threat,” he added.