The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has reiterated that it is prepared to pursue prosecutions where it finds evidence of damaged wildlife and habitats resulting from illegal hill burning.

The warning to farmers and the public follows multiple instances of burning reported in the Blackstairs Mountain and Mount Leinster along the Carlow-Wexford border over a series of days last week.

It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn growing vegetation between 1 March and 31 August each year on any land not yet cultivated.

Those found to have deliberately started hill fires between these dates could be prosecuted and face fines or imprisonment.

“[The] NPWS [is] working closely with an Garda Síochána and the fire service and [is] pursuing a line of enquiry. [The] NPWS does not comment on any reports which are under investigation,” a spokesperson for the Department of Housing told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“Illegal and uncontrolled burning events cause devastating and sometimes irreparable harm to nature and wildlife, particularly during the nesting and breeding season.

“Where evidence is forthcoming of damage to wildlife and their habitats, prosecutions will be pursued,” the spokesperson said.


Commenting after the fires last week, Minister of State for nature Malcolm Noonan stated that “quite extensive” surveillance is in place to detect instances of land burning, which the “courts are starting to take very seriously”.

“We certainly have had good success in terms of prosecutions since 2022 - four individuals and a further three cases pending,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Our surveillance is under way, we have aerial patrols, we are using drone technology and there are far more boots on the ground and a really good working relationship with an Garda Síochána, which I think has been very helpful in our efforts to stamp out this kind of activity.”