There are just over 8 weeks to go before new lead shot restrictions come into force in Northern Ireland.

Anyone shooting with lead shot on or over wetlands on or after 1 September will be committing an offence and will be liable to prosecution. Conviction could result in a fine of up to £1,000.

The legislation applies to all wetlands, including all foreshore areas, in Northern Ireland. Therefore, all coastal wildfowling, including punt gunning, will have to be undertaken with non-lead shot.

Inland flight ponds, no matter how small, are counted as wetland features, as are fields that frequently flood or which include streams, ponds or other wetland features.

Shooting duck, geese, game, pests or clays away from wetlands will not be affected by the legislation.

BASC?s director for Northern Ireland, Roger Pollen, said: ?It is very important that all people who shoot in the Province are aware these new regulations come into force soon, as non-compliance could lead to prosecutions. Non-lead alternatives are widely available from all good gun dealers.?

Mr Pollen added some wildfowlers were sceptical about how the ban will be policed: ?Though enforcement of the new regulations is formally the responsibility of the police, wildfowlers have long been at the forefront of self-regulation and conservation for the benefit of the environment.?

Northern Ireland?s wildfowlers feel the ban on lead shot is an integral part of waterfowl conservation.

Jack Gilliland of the Strangford Lough Wildfowlers? & Conservation Association, in County Down, told Shooting Times magazine: ?We all knew this was coming and have accepted the restriction, though some of the more senior wildfowlers might not be so welcoming. However, there are still a few anomalies and unanswered questions. What if I am shooting on a lough that straddles Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where lead shot is not banned? I think the restriction may need to be revisited in a year or two.?

Tom McGoldrick of Fermanagh Wildfowling and Conservation Association, in County Fermanagh, said: ?I don?t think the restriction on using lead shot will be hugely detrimental to wildfowling. The guidance seems to be well-written and easy to understand.?

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