THE sub zero weather and snowy conditions that prevailed over the last two weeks are thought to have inflicted further hardship on the Cooley Mountain ponies.
A meeting took place last week at the Granvue Hotel in Omeath where stakeholders and local people were asked to have their say on the controversial decision by the council to remove the ponies from the mountains.
Yet the snow covered mountains have meant that the horses that were not picked up have faced the coldest March in living memory.
“There is no grazing on the mountain, and those ponies are now starving up there,” said Cllr Jim Loughran. “I know of between six and seven ponies that have died across the range in the last few weeks.”
Cllr Loughran was at the meeting in Omeath, where he says the majority of people feel that the ponies should be removed for their own welfare.
“From my understanding of the 1996 Act, you need three things to have ponies on the mountains: they need to microchipped, you need to have mountain rights and you need to have grazing rights. If you don’t have these and your horses are removed then you can’t have any complaints.”
A number of horse owners are angry at the removal of horses from the mountain, but it is a minority opinion.
“I would guess that less than 50 per cent of the ponies have been removed from the mountain and the one’s that remain are starving because of the conditions on the mountains at the moment.”
Another local horse owner, who didn’t wish to be named, told the paper that she has been asked to bring hay for animals that have spotted, half starved on the mountain.
“The starving animals are a regular sight on the mountain. If you could take them in and stable them that would be one thing, but once a horse goes down it rarely that you will see them get back up. Unfortunately many of horses would have to be shot.”
When previously contacted the Council said: “In a joint operation between the veterinary office of Louth County Council and the Department of Agriculture a number of horses were seized from the Cooley Commonage region. The reasons for this action was due to non-compliance with EU & National Legislation regarding horse identification and Byelaws regarding horse licenses in a control area.”