Ban on summer derogation for pigeon shooting slammed

A decision to ban the shooting of wood pigeons between May 31 and September 1 this year by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has provoked criticism from a number of sides.

The summer derogation on wood pigeon shooting will not be allowed this year, the department announced last week.

In a statement on Friday, May 15, the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) claimed Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan was “removing from the tillage farmer the most effective form of crop protection from wood pigeon damage”.

Taking to social media on Friday, May 15, the gun organisation said:

From May 31 this year until September 1, wood pigeons cannot be controlled by means of shooting, the only really effective way.

The association noted that, when it queried this decision, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) responded that the decision was based on professional objective scientific advice.

“We now invite the NPWS to publish this advice in full along with the sources of the said advice.

“This change to the long-established procedure is without any consultation with the people who have carried out this control for generations.

“The conservation status of the wood pigeon is not threatened in any way.

Tillage farmers have enough to contend with: rain; wind; heat or cold; price; and costs – without losing yield to hordes of hungry pigeons.

Accusing authorities of being seemingly “too far removed from the problems of the Irish farmer”, the organisation concluded by calling on the minister to “immediately rescind this change to the established derogation that has worked well all down the years”.

The NARGC has since written to the minister seeking the advice taken when making the decision.

‘Lack of consultation’

Independent TD for Kerry Michael Healy-Rae and Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Matt Carthy both criticised the lack of consultation with those affected prior to making the decision.

Deputy Healy-Rae said: “This decision was made without any consultation with those who would be affected and at a time when there is little or no opportunities for government scrutiny and accountability.

This decision must be reversed until a full consultation process has been completed with all stakeholders and until there is accountability to the Oireachtas.

“Through a parliamentary question to Minister Madigan that I am tabling this week, I am calling that the report should be published and allow it to be scrutinised as those affected believe that the evidence does not stand up to scrutiny.”

Deputy Carthy also labelled the lack of consultation as “not good enough”, stating:

“The NPWS says that the decision was based on new scientific evidence. It should publish that evidence and allow it to be scrutinised.

Farmers and game clubs are vital stakeholders in wildlife preservation.

“It is not acceptable that decisions that could have enormous implications for farming and for food supplies is made without any engagement with those stakeholders. Minister Madigan must resolve this matter immediately,” deputy Carthy concluded.