Thursday 29 March 2007

Hunting group takes legal action against State

Planners will love the irony in this story.

A HUNTING organisation has initiated legal action against the Environment Minister for failing to properly conserve the birds which they want to shoot.
The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) has secured a judicial review against Dick Roche for the alleged failure of the State to properly transpose EU measures for the conservation of birds.
The NARGC said it has taken the action to stop the licensed hunting of the red grouse and several other protected wild bird species outside of the game hunting season and during their reproductive cycles.
In addition, the NARGC has challenged the minister’s issuing of a hunting licence to the Irish Kennel Club under the Wildlife Act.
It said in doing so the minister is acting in excess of his powers by issuing a licence retrospectively and not seeking to make an individual assessment of each applicant for hunting.
“The current licence which was issued was backdated for an improper purpose in an attempt to validate hunting which had already taken place unlawfully,” a spokesman said.
“The NARGC is committed to sustainable hunting in accordance with the highest principles of conservation and views these actions as extremely serious.”
Environment Minister Dick Roche said that while he had seen reports of a legal challenge, his department had not yet received any papers, and so he could not comment on the substance of the case.
However, he said the licence, issued to the Irish Kennel Club, does not involve shooting. It covers the training of gun dogs and the holding of gun dog trials up to the end of March. “There is a short open season for the shooting of red grouse, from September 1 to September 30, but that is not the subject of the current licence to the Irish Kennel Club that has apparently been challenged,” he said.
“The period from February 1 to March 31 is in accord with the traditional season for the training of gun dogs and the holding of gun dog trials. This involves the dogs locating the birds, although they are not shot, captured or taken.”
He said the question of disturbance during the breeding season of the red grouse was raised with the department by the NARGC prior to the issue of the licence. “The matter was carefully examined in the National Parks and Wildlife Service and best international scientific advice was sought.”
That advice was that the period in question was sufficiently early in the year not to interfere with the breeding of the red grouse and that the Irish Kennel Club’s activities would not impact negatively on red grouse populations.
Stephen Rogers
© Irish Examiner

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