Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question No. 410
To the Minister for the Environment and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if it is current policy that no hunting may take place on State lands; the reason Dúchas gave permission for gun dog trials on State lands at Kinnity Moors, County Offaly and the National Park at Kippure during the bird-nesting season in contravention of the Wildlife Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 20th May, 2003.
Ref No: 13764/03
Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Cullen):
Current policy is that hunting with firearms is not permitted on State lands which are owned by my Department. Neither I nor my predecessor with responsibility for wildlife conservation have proposed any change of policy in this matter.
At the request of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), my predecessor agreed, without prejudice to the above position, to participation by experienced Departmental officials together with nominees of NARGC to examine the issue of hunting on State lands, from a scientific perspective only. A final report has been received, which is under consideration within my Department.
When the report has been fully examined I will address any issues of policy which may arise from it.
While hunting with firearms is forbidden on State lands, some limited hunting with gun dogs, but without firearms and excluding killing, has been permitted on these lands for many years under licences issued to the Irish Kennel Club by my Department under Section 22 (9) (C) of the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended. This provision permits the granting of a licence to "hunt, on such day or during such period of days, protected wild birds of a species so specified for the purpose of either training gun dogs for any field sport or holding gun dog trials".
I am advised that this form of hunting, which does not involve the killing of the protected birds, does not interfere with birds during their nesting season.
It is a means of training dogs to locate the sitting birds and pointing them to the dogs' owners. I am also advised that this arrangement has been of mutual benefit to both my Department and the Irish Kennel Club, in that the National Parks and Wildlife Service is provided with the results of bird counts carried out by the Club while training dogs on the mountains.
It has been brought to my attention that, through an administrative error in my Department, the hunting licences issued to the Irish Kennel Club since 2000 do not cover gun trials without firearms and without killing. This lapse is now being rectified.