September 1st, 2023
Earlier this week, my Department announced new amendments to the Open Seasons Order, which take effect from today, September 1st. Administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Open Seasons Order allows for the hunting of certain bird species in Ireland and runs from September 1st until January 31st.
For only the second time in 30 years, amendments will remove four species of wild birds from the list of species which can be hunted: the Scaup, Goldeneye, Pochard and Pintail.
These amendments follow extensive public consultation earlier this year, and are in line with an EU Directive protecting vulnerable wild birds, and aim to ensure the sustainability of hunting along with the conservation of wild bird populations.
As Minister for Heritage, I issued the following statement today via gov.ie:
Last year, I established a review of the Open Seasons Order to consider the 21 species of wild bird that can be hunted in Ireland. This includes 15 species that are listed as ‘Red’ or ‘Amber’ in Birdwatch Ireland’s Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland report and 14 that are the subject of national-level concern, as outlined in NPWS’s 2019 Article 12 report to the European Commission.
Following an internal analysis, a public survey and stakeholder consultation, the decision has been taken to amend the Open Seasons Order to remove four species of wild bird – the Scaup, Goldeneye, Pochard and Pintail. This is only the second time that species have been removed from the Open Seasons Order for 30 years, the first being the Curlew in 2012.
While this announcement is a significant step forward for the protection of wild birds, I would stress that this is just the starting point of a process of change as to how the Open Season Order can work better for the conservation of birds in Ireland. I’m committed to strengthening the evidence base that informs decision-making around the OSO, and to that end I am prioritising the collection of biological and hunting data evidence for five key species (red grouse, golden plover, common snipe, jack snipe and woodcock) and commencing the development of management plans for key species and sites.
I also intend to establish a ‘Sustainable Hunting of Wild Birds Stakeholder Forum’ and will be making an announcement on the details of this in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, I fully recognise that the threats and pressures affecting these precious species go further than hunting. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation are also significant problems and I intend to work with my colleagues across Government to progress measures that will support the necessary changes.
As I have said in the past, my aim is to continue to restore and preserve the conservation status of vulnerable bird species, and in the context of hunting and the Open Seasons Order, to support sustainable hunting practices.