H5N1: Heritage Ministers urged to stop pheasant shooting

11 Oct

H5N1 Heritage Ministers urge to stop pheasant shooting copy

Heritage Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan are being urged to say NO to the shooting of pheasants amid growing fears about the spread of the highly contagious H5N1 bird flu virus.

An open season order approved by the Ministers will allow the shooting of cock pheasants from 1 November until 31 January throughout the State. The birds are bred in captivity and released into the countryside to be blasted to death.

In an appeal, ICABS called for pheasant releases to be halted.

“We wish to bring to your urgent attention an ITV News report which highlights that pheasants released by gun clubs in the UK have tested positive for H5N1, fuelling fears that this may accelerate the spread of the avian flu and have devastating consequences for already threatened wild bird populations.” https://www.itv.com/news/2022-09-22/pheasants-test-positive-for-avian-flu-as-experts-oppose-release-of-game-birds

The report, headed “Pheasants test positive for avian flu as experts warn against release of millions of game birds”, reveals that “pheasants in Cornwall, Cheshire and Norfolk have tested positive for the H5N1 virus [and] unconfirmed reports suggest that hundreds of the birds may have died in Norfolk, where a sample of six pheasants tested by the APHA all came back positive.”

Quoted in the report, Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s director of policy, stated: “To see released gamebirds test positive for avian influenza is incredibly concerning and a further development in what has been the worst outbreak of avian influenza we have ever seen. It is currently unclear whether these pheasants caught the disease from wild birds or whether the pheasants were released already infected. If the latter, then this is an unacceptable risk to our wild bird populations.”

Replying to N5N1-related Dail Questions from TDs Paul Murphy, Mick Barry, Jennifer Whitmore and Joan Collins, Minister of State Noonan said that his Department officials are “keeping the situation under very close review” and that “should the situation deteriorate, my Department in collaboration with experts in the DAFM will review all possible options to mitigate that”.

This is an alarming response. Waiting to see if the situation deteriorates before taking the necessary steps is certainly not the way to go. At that point, the disease will have spread further, more birds will undoubtedly be dead and it may be too late to meaningfully mitigate an unfolding catastrophe.

“The Precautionary Principle must be applied now and all pheasant releases and shooting must be stopped,” we told the Ministers. “This is a critical moment which demands decisive action. We implore you to act before the fields and forests, like the cliffs and coasts, are covered with carcasses.”

See the NPWS open season order at


Please join us in urging Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan to apply the Precautionary Principle and stop the shooting of pheasants and all birds.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802 OR (086) 251 9893
Email: minister@housing.gov.ie; darragh.obrien@oireachtas.ie; natureconservation@housing.gov.ie; WildlifeLicence@housing.gov.ie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DarraghOBrienTD
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DarraghOBrienTD

Malcolm Noonan TD (Green Party, Carlow Kilkenny)
Minister of State for Heritage
Tel: (01) 888 2425 OR (01) 618 3156
Email: mos@housing.gov.ie; malcolm.noonan@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votemalcolmnoonan1/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/noonan_malcolm


The cruelty of pheasant shooting

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