In periods of prolonged severe weather (typically persistent freezing conditions) the relevant government ministers have the power to make protection orders suspending the shooting of wildfowl and waders in England, Wales and Scotland, under Section 2 (6) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Similar provisions apply in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended 2011).
When is a suspension enforced (England, Wales, Scotland)?
The shooting of wildfowl and waders is normally suspended after 14 consecutive days of freezing weather. The criteria for triggering the severe weather procedures are based on the air and grass temperatures collected daily by 25 coastal weather stations around Britain. The procedure leading up to a suspension of waterfowl shooting is as follows:
When more than half of the meteorological stations (in Scotland and/or England/Wales) have recorded frozen conditions (determined from minimum air and grass temperatures) for seven consecutive days (but allowing short periods of thaw), the country nature conservation agencies (NE, NRW, SNH) liaise with BASC, who normally advise a period of voluntary restraint of shooting whilst severe weather conditions last.
The information from each weather station is gathered each morning and reflects the lowest air and grass temperature recorded that night. This combination of minimum temperatures has been found the most appropriate to reflect difficult feeding conditions for feeding waterfowl. Also important is that the information is available by 12 noon each day to aid decision-making.
At this point BASC may well call for voluntary restraint in waterfowl shooting wherever conditions require it.
If the severe weather looks set to continue BASC informs its members generally but particularly the secretaries of its wildfowling and game shooting clubs, joint councils, syndicates and gamekeepers that, if the weather conditions continue for a further 6 days, then a protection order suspending the shooting of wildfowl and waders in the appropriate country is likely to be signed on the 13th day, to take effect at 00.01am on the 15th day.
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