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Shooting of four duck species banned in Ireland

Ireland’s shooting organisations say that the ban was brought in with little engagement, while others complain that it does not go far enough, reports Felix Petit

Northern pintail

Northern pintail is one of the species that has been removed from the quarry list

Four duck species – the greater scaup, common pochard, common goldeneye and northern pintail – have been removed from the list of legal quarry for the forthcoming shooting season in the Republic of Ireland.

This comes weeks after the UK Government announced its own intentions to review quarry lists, initially in Scotland. BASC subsequently conducted a comprehensive review of all British quarry species and submitted this to the Government as a ‘sustainable shooting framework’.

Earlier this year, Bird Watch Ireland (BWI) called for the list to be reviewed, with particular attention paid to six species that it believed were of conservation concern.

BWI pushed for all six to be removed from the list of legal quarries, due to “robust scientific evidence of their ongoing declines”. However, European golden plover and northern shoveler remain on the list, which BWI claims goes against scientific recommendations due to ongoing declines in both.

According to the latest data, the Republic of Ireland population of pochard is estimated at 4,729 individuals, with estimates for the other species even lower – 1,865 shoveler, 1,256 goldeneye, 1,017 pintail and 167 scaup. The BWI is also calling for further analysis to be undertaken in relation to tufted duck, common snipe, Jack snipe, Eurasian woodcock, mallard, Eurasian teal, Eurasian wigeon, gadwall and red grouse.

The Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland assessment conducted by BWI in 2021 showed that 63% of Ireland’s regularly occurring species are red or amber-listed.

BWI has accused the Irish government of comprehensively failing to address the conservation of wild bird species and highlighted its poor track record in upholding its environmental commitments under EU law.

Following this rhetoric that has become sadly familiar to the sporting community in 2023, a spokesperson from the National Association of Regional Game Councils, the largest conservation organisation in Ireland, commented: “This is very disappointing; we have called for an immediate meeting with Darragh O’Brien [minister for heritage].

“The manner in which this was brought in with little or no engagement demonstrates that National Parks and Wildlife Service does not want to engage and will guillotine through obvious agendas.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.