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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 3 April, 2020

'No plans to ban night-time shooting' for hunters and predator control

A suggested curfew was met with strong opposition from some rural groups.

'90% of foxes shot at night are shot in the proposed curfew period.'
'90% of foxes shot at night are shot in the proposed curfew period.'
Image: Shutterstock/LightCapturedByDamian

THE JUSTICE MINISTER has insisted there are no plans to introduce a ban on night-time shooting for owners of legally-held guns, but said related issues were still being considered.

A proposal put forward by the National Parks and Wildlife Service earlier this year suggested a night-time ban between September and March each year. The initial suggested ban would have covered the hours of midnight to 6am.

The Firearms Consultative Panel – which includes stakeholders like the gardaí, farming groups, hunters, and firearm dealers – began considering the proposal earlier this summer, but the idea was met with strong opposition.

“From my own experience, and talking with other gun club members from around the country 90% of foxes shot at night, are shot in the proposed curfew period,” Seamus Heraty of the National Association of Regional Game Councils said back in May.

“Farm owners give permission for gun club members to shoot over their land, which very much includes predator control at night,” Heraty said.

He added that the proposed ban could have an impact on levels of crime:

Gun club members involved in predator control at night are the eyes of the community on the long dark nights of winter, and supply An Garda with a vast amount of information on various illegal activities they encounter.
By imposing this ban we are giving free range to those involved in these activities.

Giving an update on the debate in answer to a parliamentary question recently, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan told independent TD Michael Collins there was “no proposal to ban night-time shooting”.

After a meeting of the Firearms Consultative Panel, a working group, chaired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), held several meetings and drew up a draft report on the issue.

That report was circulated back to the Firearms Consultative Panel, and while it ”received considerable support, certain concerns were raised”. More submissions were made to the working group, and a full meeting of the consultative panel is due to take place soon.

Said Flanagan:

The proposals in the draft report do not contain a legal ban on night-time shooting but rather are intended to act as a voluntary code of best practice guidance for shooters.

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