Shooting ban continues in freezing weather.

Shooting wildfowl in Scotland was suspended for the first time in 13 years last week, after the Scottish Government minister for the environment, Roseanna Cunningham, signed an order under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, which brought into force the suspension from 5 January.

In Northern Ireland a similar suspension came into effect for the first time ever, while the Republic of Ireland also introduced its own suspension of wildfowl and wader shooting last week.

Game bird shooting is not affected by the suspensions.

The legal suspension of shooting activity is introduced on the 15th day of severe weather, according to data collected at coastal weather stations by the Meteorological Office.

When a protection order is signed, it becomes an offence to kill or take any of the affected species, whether on the coast or inland.

The suspensions could last for a further week or more if there is no improvement in the weather conditions affecting the UK.

They are subject to review after seven days if there is an improvement.

The last such suspension covering the whole of the UK was in January 1997.

In England and Wales, at the time of going to press, no suspension had been introduced, but due to the continuing cold weather at the end of last week, BASC called for voluntary restraint in the shooting of duck, geese and wading birds where local conditions merit it.

Restraint is necessary to protect birds that experience difficulties in feeding and roosting due to snow and ice affecting their habitats.

The cold weather has led to much shooting activity being cancelled, both voluntarily and under the suspensions.

Equally, it has meant stunning shooting in the snow for many game shooters lucky enough to be able to get to their pegs.

Shooting Times?s columnist, David Frost, explained that in fowling terms, the weather was the coldest he?d experienced in more than 25 years: ?I was out early last week in Chichester Harbour and had a fantastic morning, bagging a wigeon in spectacular conditions. It was the first time since 1983 that I?ve seen saltwater freezing over, however. In 1983 it was so hard that you could walk across the mud, where normally you?d have sunk straight in. It wasn?t quite that bad last week, but who knows if this continues??

The blanket nature of the cold weather suspensions has also impacted shoot dates, which otherwise could have gone ahead.

Bob Chaffer, foreman trapper of the Hebridean mink project in Stornoway, explained he had outings for woodcock in the diary which have had to be put on hold despite mild conditions, relatively, in the Outer Hebrides: ?The problem is that the decision to lift restrictions is based on conditions from around the whole of Scotland, so even if we?ve thawed out here, which is looking likely shortly, it depends on the other areas, which may be a bit different. The birds are still here and I don?t think they will leave as we?re the warmest place in the country at the minute.?

In the past few weeks the wind has blown from the north and east.

Britain?s prevailing wind generally brings weather from the west, but snowy conditions and sub-zero temperatures have been brought instead from the Arctic, Scandinavia and Siberia.

Some forecasters have even predicted that if the conditions continue for the next few weeks, this will have been one of the coldest winters of the past 100 years.

Has your shooting been affected by the cold weather?