Minister of State for heritage Malcolm Noonan has removed four native wild bird species from the open season shooting list.
It is now no longer permissible to shoot the bird species scaup, goldeneye, pochard and pintail.
The move is only the second time that a bird species has been removed from the Open Seasons Order (OSO) within the last 30 years, the first being the curlew in 2012. The latest amendments to the OSO take effect from 1 September.
The order allows for the hunting of certain bird species in Ireland and is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), running from 1 September until 31 January.
Explaining his decision, Minister Noonan said: “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.”
The Minister said that following internal analysis, a public survey and stakeholder consultation, the decision to remove the four species of wild bird from the OSO was made.
“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,” he said.
Minister Noonan said he will also establish and communicate the details of a sustainable hunting of wild birds stakeholder forum over 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,” he said.