Written Answers. - Wild Birds.

Austin Deasy

Question:

18 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if she will investigate claims by environmentalists that Dungarvan Urban District Council was responsible for killing a number of songbirds at the town dump during the summer in 1998 when attempting to get rid of rodents; if she will have the matter investigated by officials of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19697/98]

In accordance with declarations made by me under the European Communities (Wildlife Act, 1976) (Amendment) Regulations, 1986 (S. I. No. 254 of 1986), landowners are permitted to control certain wild bird species by designated methods where, for example, crop damage, damage to livestock or spread of animal diseases are involved. Control of wild birds other than under these declarations must be subject to a specific licence issued under the Wildlife Act, 1976.

In April this year, an application for a licence under section 42 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, which facilitates the control of protected species causing damage to crops or livestock by a pest control company was received by Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, in respect of lands adjacent to the Dungarvan landfill site. This application was supported by correspondence from Waterford County Council verifying the damage and nuisance caused to surrounding farmland from birds attracted to the landfill site. The application was investigated in a site visit by officials of Dúchas on 7 May which confirmed the nature of the problem and the damage caused. A licence issued under section 42 of the Act to the pest control company on 14 May 1998 enabling them to shoot, scare and use narcotised bait for control of rooks and gulls valid to 30 June 1998.

The control operation was carried out in May and as part of the operation, the pest control company monitored the operation to ensure that casualties among non-target species were avoided or minimised to the greatest possible extent. While I understand that there may have been some non-target casualties as a result of this operation, my officials have received no complaints in relation to the operation itself and I am satisfied that all reasonable efforts were taken to avoid such casualties.