Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Ceisteanna (1083, 1085, 1086, 1089, 1093, 1094, 1095, 1097, 1100, 1101, 1103, 1104, 1107)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

1083. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the consultation between her Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Services prior to the decision to rescind the derogation on wood pigeon shooting during the summer months, considering the potential impact that this move could have on tillage farming and food supplies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7914/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

1085. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if clarification will be provided on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7347/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

1086. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) will receive a response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7351/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

1089. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason for the decision to ban the shooting of pigeons during the summer months in view of the fact they are a serious cause of damage to tillage crops; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7370/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1093. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to address a matter in relation to wood pigeon control (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7439/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

1094. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a decision to lift the summer derogation on wood pigeon shooting will be reversed in view of the fact that affected stakeholders were not consulted and the derogation was introduced at a time when there is limited opportunity for scrutiny by Dáil Éireann of the decision; if the scientific evidence used in making the decision will be published; if a consultation process will be held with all stakeholders on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7445/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

1095. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if correspondence circulated from an organisation (details supplied) will receive a response. [7458/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

1097. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the scientific grounds on which she refused to sign the derogation permit in 2020 which allows farmers to shoot pigeons as part of their crop protection. [7693/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

1100. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if regulations on wood pigeon control will be deferred to allow for consultation with stakeholders (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7773/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

1101. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the decision was taken to prohibit pigeon shooting (details supplied) from 31 May to 1 September 2020; if there was official consultation carried out with impacted stakeholders such as tillage farmers; and if she will review the decision in view of the way in which it may impact on tillage farmers with respect to protecting crops. [7837/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

1103. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the derogation to shoot wood pigeons during the summer months was rescinded; if the scientific evidence that led to the decision will be published; if she will reinstate the derogation pending a full public consultation on this move; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7926/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1104. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to the concerns of an organisation (details supplied) and regional game councils in relation to the exclusion of wood pigeon from the derogation for June, July and August 2020; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that the advice to farmers that fear serious damage to crops to apply for section 42 permits under the Wildlife Acts is not adequate due to delays that occur in the issue of such permits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7952/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

1107. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she is committed to signing the derogation classifying wood pigeon as a pest species from 31 May to 1 September 2020 thus providing tillage farmers with crop protection. [8160/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1083, 1085, 1086, 1089, 1093 to 1095, inclusive, 1097, 1100, 1101, 1103, 1104 and 1107 together.

I signed the Wild Birds State Wide Declaration last month for the period 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 which allows the killing and capturing of certain wild bird species where they are causing damage to crops, livestock and fauna or represent a threat to public health or safety. The Declaration allowed for the shooting of wood pigeon to prevent serious damage to arable crops except for the months of June, July and August this year. As in previous years the renewal of the Declaration was the subject of consultation with relevant stakeholders such as hunting, conservation and farming bodies as well as the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.

I made the decision at the time taking account of scientific advice provided as part of the consultation. This raised concerns about the full year inclusion in the Declaration of wood pigeon on the basis that there is limited evidence to suggest that wood pigeon cause “serious damage” to crops during the summer. It was submitted that there is a lack of comprehensive studies into wood pigeon damage to crops to inform the decision to allow for year-round derogations for their control. Studies of wood pigeon food preference in Ireland from 2013 have shown that in spring, the diet of wood pigeons is dominated by fruit and seeds of trees (Ivy). In summer, the diet is variable and consists of a relatively equal proportion of cereal grains, clover and weed material.

This 2013 study further highlighted that cereal crops were only the preferred food during the autumn months (defined as August–October in the study). Based on current cropping systems, these crops were most likely consumed post-harvest i.e., harvest spillage left on stubble fields. While the derogation is given to ‘prevent serious damage to crops’ there is limited evidence to suggest ‘serious damage’ to crops occurs during the summer period. It was also indicated that shooting of wood pigeon during summer months could have indirect adverse effects on other species such as stock dove and it was recommended that there is a need to “undertake a contemporary review of the species interaction with crops with respect to damage ”.

Pending such a review, and on the basis of available literature and the “precautionary principle”, I considered it appropriate at the time that the wood pigeon would be removed from the Declaration for the summer months – June, July and August 2020.

At the same time, I recognised that if wood pigeons were seen to cause damage to crops during the summer, landowners could still avail of Section 42 permits under the Wildlife Acts i.e., permits, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual species on specific lands.

Since the Declaration was signed last month I have considered the matter further in consultation with farming sector interests who raised concerns about the exclusion of the wood pigeon from the Declaration during the June to August period on the basis of damage to crop yield, damage to crops making them difficult to harvest and also faecal contamination.

In the circumstances and in light of potential damage highlighted by farming sector interests, I took the view that consideration of changing the status quo by removing the wood pigeon from the Declaration during this year’s summer could benefit from further information and studies.

Accordingly, I have decided that the status quo be reinstated for the wood pigeon this year i.e., that lethal means would be available to landowners during the three summer months June, July and August to prevent crop damage. I have signed a revised Declaration to this effect. Additionally, the issue of wood pigeon damage to crops during the summer months will be examined with a view to considering this issue in the 2021/22 year. A reply will issue to all correspondence received in my office on this matter.

Question No. 1084 answered with Question No. 1081.
Questions Nos. 1085 and 1086 answered with Question No. 1083.