The following notice has been issued by An Garda Siochana and can be accessed on either of the links below:

What about pheasant shooting during Level 5?

Pheasant shooting season begins on Sunday 1st November. This normally involves shooting club members travelling to pheasant shoots around the country, frequently in groups, and is regarded as sport shooting.

Under the current regulations (SI 448), sporting events must be organised under the structure/ licence of a national governing body, funded by Sport Ireland. As such, sport shooting is prohibited in any other circumstances.

Recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events. It has also been clarified that recreational hunting does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home.

Shooting of vermin (rats/foxes/crows) is permissible as an essential support service to the farming and agriculture profession.!TUDPY5

The above is an information advice issued by An Garda Siochana in advance of the opening of the pheasant shooting season next Sunday.  From comments already circulating on social media from individuals and some shooting organisations it would appear that this measure is considered unreasonable and interpretations are being offered which are seriously flawed giving rise to individual clubs and sports shooters being misled into believing that pheasant shooting will be in compliance with COVID-19 Level 5 as game shooters would be alone and within 5km of home.

The advice being circulated on social media which is referred to, is seriously flawed and should not be followed for the following reasons:

  1. COVID-19 Level 5 restrictions are supported by law i.e. Statutory Instrument 448 of 2020 making any breach an offence.
  2. Game shooting is a sport and has always been argued as such by the various national bodies and clubs and pheasant shooting is therefore a sporting event, whether alone or with others
  3. Sporting events under the terms of the regulations may only take place if organised under a licence or structure of a national governing sporting body which enjoys funding from the government-backed Sport Ireland.  To our knowledge no game hunting body enjoys such funding from Sport Ireland.
  4. It has already been argued by bodies and individuals on social media that pheasant shooting will comply if it takes place within the 5km distance from home limit, and if the game shooter is alone.  This is untrue and would be a serious mistake to make.  The sports exemption applies to professional sports for the purposes of training only.  Pheasant shooting is not “training”.
  5. The consequences of an individual found breaching the regulation is potentially very serious for that individual, apart at all from the consequences which might be inflicted on other innocent people.  It’s clear that breaches will be dealt with by prosecutions and offenders should expect the courts to adopt a strict approach in the current climate. 
  6. Gardai in two stations in large towns have confirmed on the spot fines of €500, seizure of firearm and possible revocation of licence.  They have also cryptically noted that a dog is not necessary for the shooting of vermin.
  7. No matter how inconvenient it may be, shooting people deserve to be given factual advice and not be misled.

The Sports Coalition, in common with a number of the estate driven shoots, supports this move as it is a reasonable measure to protect not only club members, but also landowners and the wider community at the height of the worst public health crisis in a hundred years.  It is but a tiny inconvenience in return for protecting our communities and landowners from whom we have enjoyed decades of welcome, cooperation and hospitality.  The Sports Coalition are in contact with the NPWS to seek an extension to the season into February.