Forestry Act 2014

15.

Damage by vermin

15. (1) Where the Minister is satisfied that trees in a forest are being, or are likely to be, damaged by vermin in the vicinity of a forest, the Minister may serve on the owner of the land concerned a notice in writing stating that the trees are being, or are likely to be, damaged by vermin and directing that the vermin be destroyedso far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, or that certain specified steps be taken to prevent such damage within such time as the Minister may specify.

(2) Where—

(a) the land is unoccupied, or

(b) the land is occupied and the owner, having been duly served, fails to comply with the notice under subsection (1),

the Minister may authorise in writing any person to enter on the land concerned and kill and take the vermin thereon during any specified period, not exceeding 12 months.

(3) A person entering on land under an authority given by the Minister under this section shall, if so required by the owner, produce his or her authority and, if any person obstructs a person so authorised in the due performance of his or her functions under that authority, he or she shall be guilty of an offence and be liable, on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

(4) For the purposes of this section the following shall be vermin:

(a) squirrels (other than red squirrels);

(b) wild or feral animals (including rabbits) that are not protected wild animals within the meaning of the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 ;

(c) subject to subsection (5), a species protected under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 or the Habitats Regulations.

(5) Notwithstanding subsection (4)(c), where the power under subsection (1) is exercised nothing in this section shall be construed as authorising or requiring, on foot of the notice concerned, the destruction of, or the taking of any other steps in relation to, species falling within subsection (4)(c) otherwise than in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under—

(a) the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012, or

(b) the Habitats Regulations.

(6) On proof by the owner of the land concerned that the steps taken in relation to that land by a person authorised under subsection (2) needlessly resulted in damage or loss of a significant character to that owner in respect of that land, the person so authorised shall be liable to pay compensation to him or her therefor and, if the person so authorised is not the owner of the trees referred to in subsection (1), the person shall be entitled to be reimbursed by the owner of the trees in respect of any payment the person has properly made to the first-mentioned owner under this subsection.

(7) In this section “owner”, in relation to land, includes a person in occupation, or appearing to be in occupation, of the land.