Green Party members will be disgusted to see their minister “essentially standing over” the return of bird hunting today.
The Open Seasons Order allows for the hunting of 17 species of bird to begin today, with the season opening for five more species in November.
The Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has promised to review how hunting practices impact on Irish bird populations; however, the review will have no impact on this year’s hunt.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, John Carmody, founder of the Animal rights Action Network (ARAN) said Minister Noonan has had plenty of time to hold a review since taking his seat.
“I can tell you here and now that what Green Party members are left are hanging by a thread and they are not going to be sitting there listening to this show happy with the fact that their minister Malcolm Noonan is literally standing over the shooting season that is essentially kicking off this morning,” he said.
“That is heart-breaking for a lot of people across the country who are bird-lovers knowing that these birds are essentially going to be blasted out of the sky from today onwards.”
In a statement this morning, Minister Noonan said he was “deeply concerned” that the order could allow for the “potentially unsustainable hunting of birds of conservation concern in Ireland.”
He warned that the populations of a number of birds that can be hunted under Open Seasons Order are declining – including Red Grouse, Golden Plover, Woodcock, Shoveler and Snipe.
“It’s difficult to assess the sustainability of hunting these birds as there are some gaps in the data on population size and trends and we do not have information on the numbers of birds hunted annually,” he said.
“It’s clear that we need a new way forward – based on scientific evidence, collaboration and strategic action – to ensure the sustainable hunting of birds of conservation concern in Ireland.”
Minister Noonan said he had established a working group to “develop a plan for a sustainable future for these species in Ireland.”
“In that, I want to respect fully the views of the various stakeholders and accept that some may be diametrically opposed,” he said. “Nonetheless, I am keen to find common ground.”
Mr Carmody said “there are no regulations whatsoever” that will justify the hunting of Ireland’s birds.
“Of course I want hunting and shooting to stop,” he said. “It is time we called this off. It is a blood bath we will be seeing in the days and weeks ahead.”
Minister Noonan said the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will produce a paper “on the science, the EU position and what can be done in Ireland in the short, medium and long term” before next year’s hunting season begins.
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