COUNCILLORS have expressed alarm at figures released which shows that the average total cost to Cork County Council to look after a wild horse is €795.
At a recent meeting of the Western Committee in Clonakilty, an Environment report outlined the process to deal with the control of horses and the average cost from collecting a horse, rehoming it or putting it down is almost €800 per horse.
The report also showed that in 2015, 119 horses in total were put down at the Council pound, with four taking place in the West Cork Municipal District and three in the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the cost was alarming and it has to stop.
‘Is it our business to look after them? Shouldn’t another department look after them?’ asked Cllr Carroll.
‘We are basically looking after peoples’ wild horses and we need to discuss it as it’s a crazy figure and the cost shouldn’t be on our own. Someone owned them at one stage and they have to be tracked down and made responsible for the horses.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the issue of wild horses has come up numerous times and he finds it unfortunate that 119 horses were put down last year.
‘Surely there is a sale outlet for them as it’s wrong to kill then and why can’t we sell them on? Almost €800 per horse is crazy and we haven’t explored the sale of them in great detail,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said that the Council needs to write to the Department of Agriculture on this matter.
‘We need to go back to the root causes of this problem and find out where they are coming from.
‘It’s absolutely shocking the number of horses being killed,’ said Cllr Hurley.
Louis Duffy, director of environment services with the Council said it is a challenge for the Council in dealing with the problem of wild horses, but pointed out that it’s a statutory requirement for them now.
‘We would welcome the opportunity to look at where these horses are coming from but it’s not unique to Cork alone as this is happening across the country,’ said Mr Duffy.
‘You are also dealing with people who are non-compliant so it is difficult. Also, the challenge is if we sell these horses onto a third party, the owners may come back to us on it.’
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that selling the horses might not be an option but suggested sub-contracting it to a charitable animal group like the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll.
‘I think us, as a Council, becoming owners and sellers of horses is not the right route to take,’ said Cllr Coughlan.