Concerns are growing that control of wood pigeons by shooting will not be allowed this year.
The derogation to allow their control lapses at the end of the month.
Last year, then Minister Josepha Madigan initally failed to extend the derogation, citing lack of evidence of crop damage.
The current relevant Minister is Kilkenny Green Party TD Malcolm Noonan.
We have been carrying out control of pigeons for decades, and numbers have been steady or gently rising
Paul Carberry, chair of the Irish Country Sports Association which represents professional hunters and game shoot operators, predicts “catastrophic damage” to crops if the derogation is not renewed.
“There are an estimated 29m breeding pairs of pigeon in Europe, about 5m of those in Ireland,” he says.
“We have been carrying out control of pigeons for decades, and numbers have been steady or gently rising.”
His members want to work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to gain statistical evidence of the real picture.
“We could easily record and report the number of birds being controlled, the number of instances of damage being reported.”