New laws give farmers green light to blast birds from sky
IT'S WAR: birds including crows, magpies and rooks had better watch out after laws were passed to allow hunters to blast them from the sky.
Environment Minister John Gormely has approved new rules allowing farmers and airport authorities to trap or shoot more than a dozen bird species that are causing damage to crops and interfering with aviation.
And among the common species earmarked for sharp-shooters are the crow, magpie, wood pigeon and feral pigeon which are responsible for causing damage to crops.
Other species including the black-headed gull, rook, jackdaw and lapwing will also be targeted because of the danger they pose to aircraft when they flock near airports.
Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Ciaran O'Keeffe, said that while all bird species were protected under EU law, farmers and airport authorities were allowed to cull birds which posed a threat.
"There's a derogation allowing for control of certain purposes," he said. "Some of them, like the grey crow, would be perceived as a vermin problem in farming areas where they can attack lambs or lambing sheep. Magpies go after certain birds and eggs. The rook can do substantial damage to crops like barley or wheat. The pigeon will also target crops.
"Where you've airports you don't want big flocks of birds. There's a lot of work done in airports to make them less favourable and it some cases they let the grass grow longer so it's not attractive to sit on, and make sure not to have food stores nearby."
Mr O'Keeffe said that shooting the vermin was allowed all year round, but that the Department of the Environment was obliged to publish public notices setting out what species could be culled.
He added that only shooting or trapping was allowed, as use of any poison is illegal.
"We publish this three times a year. It's all year round. They can be shot as long as they're posing a threat. You can't just go and shoot pigeons because you feel like it. They have to pose a threat. They are regarded as a pest. All of these species are very common and there's no need to apply particular protection."
The department also allows muntjac deer, fox and mink to be culled.