Of the total Departmental staff, 330 work in the area of natural heritage through the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department. In addition, my Department will take on 69 seasonal staff during the year to assist the NPWS. Frontline conservation Rangers are deployed through a regional structure and assignments are determined in light of Departmental business needs and priorities. Staffing levels across my Department are kept under regular review in line with emerging business needs and Government policy on public sector pay and staffing as advised by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As well as more senior regionally based officers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department, there are 60 NPWS conservation rangers stationed around the country who deal with enforcement matters under the Wildlife Acts. My Department is currently working with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) to create a Conservation Ranger Panel. Interviews were recently completed and I expect a panel will be available shortly from which appointments will be made across the country, taking account of financial resources to meet pay costs in the context of Government policy on public sector pay and staffing.
Within those staffing contexts, officials of my Department monitor compliance with the Wildlife Acts across the country on an on-going basis and carry out patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of these Acts, as required. Many of these officers carry out work in more than one county. They also investigate reports of breaches of the Acts including illegal snaring of badgers. Members of An Garda Síochána are also empowered under the Acts to investigate alleged offences and to prosecute if they see fit.