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BASC NI is calling on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to make the Sunday shooting of pest birds legal in Northern Ireland.

BASC NI director Tommy Mayne has written to the NIEA asking for a review of the General Licences which permit the killing or taking of pest birds.

The General Licences allow authorised persons to kill pest birds in order to conserve wild birds, preserve public health or public safety or prevent the spread of disease and serious damage to crops.

Unlike other parts of the UK, killing of pest birds is not permitted on a Sunday in Northern Ireland.

Mr Mayne said: “BASC is asking for a slight change to the General Licenses that would permit the Sunday shooting of pest birds. Such a move would not only benefit threatened bird species such as lapwing and curlew, songbirds would also benefit from a reduction in avian predators.

“From a farming perspective, under the NI Farm Quality Assurance Scheme, farmers are required to ensure that crops are managed with due regard to Health and Safety and that grain stores are maintained free from birds and controlled against vermin. The proposed change would mean that farmers would have the ability to protect their crops on a Sunday if need be.

“In the wider context, there is no restriction in relation to the shooting of deer, rabbits, foxes, grey squirrels or rats on a Sunday. In addition, it is legal to shoot clay targets and within the confines of a PSNI approved club, it is also legal to shoot paper targets on a Sunday.

“I would like to thank all the BASC members who have taken the time to contact us on this issue. I would also like to thank John Wray of the Facebook group Shooting NI for raising this issue initially with us and for his assistance and the help of members of the group.”

BASC will launch a petition at the Northern Ireland Country Sports Fair over the weekend of 27th and 28th May, where members and non-members can add their support.

Mr Mayne added: “The petition will only be available on the BASC stand and I would encourage anyone with an interest in shooting and conservation to visit the fair and sign the petition, which will be used to support our case for a change to General Licences.”

BASC council member Oliver McCullough said: “The shooting of pest birds on a Sunday was first raised by BASC members via the BASC Northern Ireland Committee. The Committee debated the issue and made a recommendation to BASC council, that it should support the proposal to change General Licences.

“BASC NI staff have now engaged directly with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on the matter and this demonstrates to members that the Committee and Council are willing to consider and act on issues raised by members on the ground.”

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