Fox cull needed to save the curlew
The input of gun clubs is required to curb vermin fox numbers which are preying on the endangered curlew in bogland areas.
Last week, at a meeting of the Curlew Task Force Committee, made up of relevant experts and decision makers, the ICSA called for a greater predator control programme to eliminate killers attacking the iconic bird - including foxes and magpies.
Meanwhile, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are in the process of recruiting for a 'specialist curlew ranger' to assist in the battle against curlew extinction. Speaking to the Farming Independent, Billy Gray, ICSA Kildare chairman who is part of the curlew task force committee, said a curlew ranger could work in collaboration with gun clubs to terminate threats.
"The curlew is under serious pressure and a lot of it is down to magpies and vermin foxes. A gun club could be used to protect the curlew in the same way they protect the local pheasant.
"If you involve local gun clubs in the community you will bring knowledge. If people know the bird is in the area they will know to look out for it.
"The curlew ranger could work with gun clubs to advise and police what's happening on the ground and then report back to the committee," he said adding that "predator fencing" is another option under consideration.
According to the Department of Arts and Heritage, the population of the protected bird has declined by 97pc nationwide since the 1980s - from 5,000 breeding pairs to around 150 breeding pairs today.
The curlew is the country's only red-listed bird species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature list of threatened species.