Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Freeze ban on wildfowl shooting in Northern Ireland

Ducks, geese and wading birds are protected under the ban

A legal suspension of the shooting of waterfowl is to be introduced for the first time in Northern Ireland because of the severe winter weather.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency plans to bring in a temporary suspension of the shooting of ducks, geese and waders.

The ban will begin on Wednesday and run for at least seven days to allow the birds to see out the cold snap.

Shooters are asked to show voluntary restraint until the suspension begins.

First suspension

Restraint and suspension are necessary to protect birds which would experience difficulties in feeding and roosting due to snow and ice affecting their habitats.

Roger Pollen, Northern Ireland director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), said: "This is the first time that a legal suspension of shooting has been required in Northern Ireland, where the climate usually means we do not experience prolonged bouts of severe weather.

"Everyone who shoots respects their quarry and we are calling on all individuals, clubs and syndicates to exercise restraint in their shooting before the statutory suspension is brought in."

Waterfowl shooting is also to be legally suspended in Scotland on Tuesday for the first time in 13 years.

In England and Wales, it is possible that the continuing cold weather will lead to a call by the end of the week for voluntary restraint in the shooting of ducks such as reared mallard, geese and wading birds including woodcock.

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