Setting priorities for bird hunting in Ireland

10 February 2023Dublin: FACE was delighted to participate in a seminar on Irish bird hunting and conservation organised by the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC). In attendance was the Irish Environment Minister, Mr. Malcolm Noonan T.D. (Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform) and other FACE Ireland member associations.

The conference was opened by the NARGC Chairman, Mr. John Butler. The Environment Minister, Mr. Malcolm Noonan T.D. delivered a speech setting out his department’s priorities to work with stakeholders to ensure sustainable hunting and conservation of birds in Ireland.

Dr. David Scallan, FACE Secretary General, explained the work of the recently established EU Task Force on Recovery of Birds and the important work taking place in the context of the African Eurasian Migratory Agreement (AEWA). For most of the Irish huntable species, he explained that hunting does not play a critical role on survival, or survival is not critical to the population dynamics. The role that hunting plays is still unknown for 3 species, Tufted Duck, Scaup and Pintail, but this will be clarified during the EU process.

The importance for Ireland to work more closely with the EU and AEWA on flyway-level conservation and management of waterbirds was stressed. Giving examples of the importance of harvest and population size data, he encouraged the need for:

  • Care to assess and interpret harvest and population size estimates.
  • Case-by-case species/population assessments.
  • Bag data, which are essential for assessing sustainable hunting.

Going forward, he stressed the importance of using the new Common Agricultural Policy rules to have more habitat (including wetlands) on Irish farmland as well as the new Nature Restoration Regulation to recover habitats for Irish birds.

Dr. Thomas Kjaer Christensen from Aarhus University, Denmark as well as Mikko Alhainen (Senior planning Officer at the Finnish Wildlife Agency) and Jarkko Nurmi (Director of Sustainable Wildlife Management at the Finnish wildlife Agency) delivered presentations on sustainable hunting and wildlife management. The Danish and Finnish models of wildlife management and sustainable hunting were helpful to showcase international best practice.

The seminar concluded with a wide-ranging discussion.

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