Wildfowl shooting 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. Gamebird 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 gameshooters lucky enough to be able to get to their pegs.

The rest of this article appears in 13th January issue of Shooting Times.

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