Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Hunters facing possible 7-month ban on night time shooting

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Stock picture
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A proposed ban on hunting at night, for seven months, is currently being considered by a review group for the Department of Justice.

The proposal, which was put forward by the National Parks and Wildlife Services, wants a ban on hunting and shooting between midnight and 6am for the seven months of September to March.

The Firearms Consultative Panel of the Department of Justice and Equality is now considering the proposal, among others and stakeholders are currently being consulted. 

Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv recently questioned the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys as to the implications the proposal could have for farmers, particularly on commonages that use shooting and hunting as a way of controlling foxes that attack sheep.

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), who are on the panel, described the proposals as 'flawed' and said it would oppose the proposals.

In a statement, on the groups website Seamus Heraty of NARGC said among the implications of the proposals was that gun club members will not be able to use their Firearms for Vermin Control for seven months of the year.

“From my own experience, and talking with other gun club members from around the country 90pc of foxes shot at night, are shot in the proposed curfew period.

“By imposing this ban, fox numbers will increase to the detriment of ground resting birds, or wild pheasants, grouse, our grey partridge from our grey partridge projects.

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“Farm animals such as lambs and domestic poultry are going to be seriously impacted by the increase in fox numbers,” he siad.

Harty hit out at another proposal, which he says is included in the report, that all land owners be informed of when hunting is to take place.

“Farm owners give permission for gun club members to shoot over their land, which very much includes predator control at night. On a typical traditional nights predator control (lamping) gun club members may cover an area of a 100 or more farms.

“The proposal that these farmers should be notified for every visit stating when you are going to on their property and for how long, even though they have already given permission for you to shoot over their land is totally unworkable,” he said.

Minister Humphreys said it is her understanding that a report has been produced by a working group set up by the Firearms Consultative Panel of the Department of Justice and Equality which recommends best practice guidelines on the issue of shooting and hunting at night.

She said the report which is now with the Firearms Consultative Panel itself and it is a matter for that body to further consider the recommendations in the report and she would support any best practice guidelines that promote health and safety but at the same time allows farmers/landowners protect their livelihoods.

The move comes as Gardai in Kerry have said they want to clamp down on 'lamping rabbits' and have issued an appeal to the public, particularly elderly people in rural areas, to report sightings.

Those who were genuinely trying to get rabbits need have nothing to fear and would have no problem with Gardai approaching them, the Gardai said.

Lamping of rabbits takes place at night and involves lurcher dogs and is conducted under cover of darkness. Winter, with its long evenings, is a peak time for it.

A meeting between senior Gardaí, farmers concerned about interference with fencing and livestock, as well as official hare coursing representatives, took place in Tralee some months ago amid concern that some of those involved were interfering  with livestock, wildlife and may have intentions other than seeking out rabbits with torches.

Gardai say it is “an opportunistic activity” in that it provides an excuse for people to trespass onto lands, allowing some to use the excuse they were looking for their dog.

“It gives people good scope to look around,” Garda Marcus Twomey of Tralee Gardaí said.

“We question the motives of some of the individuals involved in this,” Garda Twomey said.

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