Clonmel-based animal welfare organisation the TSPCA (Tipperary Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) are concerned that cock-fighting may be happening in the area after a grim discovery was made last week.
Seven birds - three cocks and four hens - were seized by Mark Hickey of the TSPCA, after he was alerted by an individual who discovered the birds on private property on the outskirts of the town, locked into a stable without the knowledge of the owner. Two of the birds were dead and found thrown onto the roof of the building.
All seven birds were reported to have been in very bad condition, all were under-weight and had scars on their faces. One bird had damage to its right leg.
Shockingly, one of the cocks had both of its eyeballs removed with visible scars and marks on its face and head.
“Nearly all the birds had scars and damage to them,” said Mr. Hickey. “But that bird with no eyes was the worst,” he said.
He said that he had no doubt that the birds had been used in cock fighting, which is an illegal blood sport in Ireland.
When Mr. Hickey investigated the scene he found five birds locked into the stable with no obvious evidence of food for the birds and they had no water or bedding. He found the other two birds were dead, and had been thrown up onto the roof of the building.
“There is no question, in my opinion, that the birds were used for fighting,” said Mark, adding that he knows who is responsible but proving it can be very difficult.
“I know who is responsible but because birds are not tagged and no identification is required for birds, it makes it very difficult to approach those who are under suspicion and to take a prosecution against them,” he said.
He said there is a chance that birds are also being stolen for such activities and has advised people who may be missing hens or cocks to contact him and to report the theft to the Gardai.
Although an illegal blood sport, similar to dog fighting, Mr. Hickey believes that both activities have been ongoing in South Tipperary, although he does not know how frequently they occur. He said that he has had calls in the past about alleged bird fighting in an area but when he investigated, was unable to find evidence. And he has seen many dogs over the years that have sustained puncture wounds and injuries that he believes are consistent with dog fighting injuries. If anyone has any information on either forms of fighting you are asked to call 086 0609288.