September 23, 2022

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September 1st has again been declared “open season” for the hunting of game despite a promise by the Government to reform arrangements in an attempt to protect species with declining numbers.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan last September said he was “deeply concerned” that the then open-season order could allow for the “potentially unsustainable hunting of birds of conservation concern in Ireland”. He warned that the populations of a number of species that can be hunted under open-season orders were declining — including red grouse, golden plover and woodcock.

At that time the Green Party TD 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.”

But on Tuesday, Mr Noonan announced that the open season for wild bird hunting would open on September 1st. He again said a new way forward to support sustainable hunting practices was required. He said significant changes would not now take place until the 2023-2024 hunting season.

Announcing this year’s open-season orders, he said: “The species and dates between which hunting may take place is in keeping with previous orders.

“Based on the information available, the number of species under conservation threat, and our legal obligations under the birds directive, changes in the ambit of the 2023-2024 order are very likely.

“In effect, this will mean the likely removal of certain species from the order. I do, however, intend consulting with the sector on these changes in advance of their application.”

Animal rights campaigner John Carmody, who last year warned of a “bloodbath” involving declining species, said “the bloody carnage of Ireland’s wildlife looks set to continue” this year as the Green Party Minister of State had rubber-stamped “another cruel season of gunning down unsuspecting wild birds and other wildlife”.

“Hunters should put down their guns and find it in them to look for something else to occupy their time without contributing to even more suffering of sentient animals,” he said. “Animal lovers and green voters across Ireland are incensed that this open season is being allowed by a party who should stand with wildlife, not allow their merciless killing to continue.”

The species and dates covered by the open-season order include:

Red grouse: September 1st to September 30th;

Mallard, teal, gadwall, wigeon, pintail, shoveler, scaup, tufted duck, pochard, goldeneye, golden plover, snipe, jack snipe: September 1st to January 31st;

Red-legged partridge, cock pheasant, woodcock, wood pigeon: November 1st to January 31st;

Canada geese: September 1st to October 15th (with exceptions in parts of counties Cavan and Leitrim until January 31st);

Greylag geese: September 1st to October 15th (with exceptions in parts of counties Wexford and Cork until January 31st);

Ruddy duck: September 1st to January 31st;

Hares: September 26th to February 28th (excluding the Co Wexford areas of the North East Slob, North West Slob, Big Island, Beggerin Island and the Raven);

Male red deer: September 1st to December 31st (excluding Co Kerry);

Female and antlerless red deer: November 1st to February 28th (excluding Co Kerry);

Male sika deer: September 1st to December 31st;

Female and antlerless sika deer: November 1st to February 28th;

Fallow male deer: September 1st to December 31st;

Female and antlerless fallow deer: November 1st to February 28th;

Muntjac deer: September 1st to August 31st.

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