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Thursday 21 November 2019

Woodcock sellers have wings clipped under new law

Woodcock is under pressure
Woodcock is under pressure

Mark O'Regan

The sale of woodcock - a delicacy being sold into the food chain - has been outlawed in Ireland.

Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys said the ban is aimed at addressing a fall in the number of the birds in Ireland.

The decision was made following consultation with relevant stakeholders in order to "reduce shooting pressure on the species". The ban is effective from tomorrow, the start date for the woodcock hunting season, which runs until January 31 next year.

Minister Humphreys said concerns were raised by both hunting groups and conservation bodies that the extent of shooting threatened the bird's survival.

It is thought the increase in the hunting of woodcock may be due to overseas market demand for the species.

Larry Taaffe, secretary of the National Woodcock Association of Ireland, said there's a black industry for certain game in Ireland.

"We have a lot of woodcock in this country - they are being overshot and sold into the food market," he told the Irish Independent. "They're being collected and sold to a game dealer in the North.

"Individuals from France are coming into the country, driving up through central Ireland, with a large freezer container, collecting woodcock and other game.

"It's regarded as a delicacy to eat. However, catching people shooting woodcock, say in the middle of the night, is extremely difficult."

He said there is a large influx of this species of bird coming to Ireland during the winter months.

"It's resident in Ireland as it is in other countries, but there's a huge influx of these birds from Scandinavia and Russia to these shores during the winter time.

"It's a sporting bird that should be treated in a sporting manner."

Minister Humphreys said her department will monitor the impact of the ban during the hunting season.

She also said that additional protection measures may be introduced. "Any further changes will only be implemented in consultation with the relevant hunting and conservation organisations," said Ms Humphreys.

Irish Independent

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