Green­land geese in the line of fire again

Novem­ber 1985

Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS -

A Gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to lift the ban on the shoot­ing of Green­land white-fronted geese on the Wex­ford Slobs was de­fended this week.

Lo­cal shoot­ing en­thu­si­ast Tur­lough Cof­fey said there has been a strong tra­di­tion of wild fowl­ing in Wex­ford for over eighty years, and he ob­jected to any ‘un­nec­es­sary’ re­stric­tions on the sport.

Mr Cof­fey said wild fowlers would be first to put their guns away if the geese num­bers were de­clin­ing, but the op­po­site is ac­tu­ally the case.

Three years ago, the ban was in­tro­duced to pro­tect the num­bers of the Green­land goose. It was es­ti­mated at that time that there were only 12,000 geese world­wide, with the vast ma­jor­ity win­ter­ing on the Slobs. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Cof­fey, the pop­u­la­tion is now 20,000 with over 7,500 in Wex­ford, and there is ‘cer­tainly’ no threat to their fu­ture.

Last week, Wex­ford TD and Ju­nior Min­is­ter for Forestry and Fish­eries, Michael D’Arcy, lifted the ban in re­la­tion to Wex­ford only, and per­mit­ted shoot­ing for six weeks be­tween 16th Novem­ber and 4th Jan­uary. How­ever, his de­ci­sion was con­demned by con­ser­va­tion­ists.

But Mr Cof­fey wel­comed the de­ci­sion. He said he was also a con­ser­va­tion­ist, but shoot­ing has a role to play in con­ser­va­tion. What some peo­ple in­stead wanted was a to­tal pro­hi­bi­tion on wild fowl shoot­ing, he said.

‘We wouldn’t shoot the geese if they were an en­dan­gered species, and we would put our guns away if the pop­u­la­tion dropped below 4,000,’ he said.

There is no threat to the species in Wex­ford, he went on. The sea­son will only last for six weeks, with only one shoot be­ing planned ev­ery two weeks, and even then only in the morn­ing. And he added that there are only about four­teen shoot­ers even us­ing the Slobs.

He be­lieves that 7,500 of the geese is enough for Wex­ford. We re­spect them but they can be­come a pest if num­bers grow too much, he says, as they can se­ri­ously dam­age win­ter crops, par­tic­u­larly in April be­fore they fly back to Green­land.

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