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Public Consultation on the Open Seasons Order launched by Minister Noonan

 The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, has today launched a public consultation on the review of the Open Seasons Order for birds, which allows for the hunting of certain bird species. 


14 of the 21 species covered under the Open Seasons Order were highlighted as being of national-level concern in 2019, on foot of a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) report to the EU on the status of bird species in Ireland, while 15 are listed as Amber or Red on BirdWatch Ireland’s Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland (BOCCI) list.


The review aims to bring forward proposals to ensure that the hunting of these species is sustainable, and in line with Ireland’s obligations to safeguard threatened bird species and the “principles of wise use” under the EU Birds Directive. It also seeks to gather views on the steps that could be put in place, for example, with respect to improvements in data collection and the management of the Order to protect vulnerable bird species.  

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, commented:


“Today’s public consultation follows from a commitment I made to have dialogue with stakeholders as part of the review on the Open Season Orders.


While Government-led efforts and initiatives to protect birds have intensified and are significant, so too is the challenge of reversing declines in threatened bird species, and other habitats and species. Despite more than 30 years of effort to protect and conserve biodiversity under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the latest assessments under these Directives show declining trends in the conservation status of some of our most threatened species. We must make every effort to protect our birds and, in line with our EU counterparts, it is appropriate that we consider the role of hunting activities in this context.


Our aim is to continue to restore and preserve the conservation status of vulnerable bird species, and in the context of hunting and the Open Seasons Order, to support sustainable hunting practices. We must also develop better processes for data collection and periodic review of the Open Seasons Order. This must be collaborative, and based on scientific evidence.”


The public consultation launched today forms part of Ireland’s review of the Annex II bird species included on the Open Seasons Order (see Notes below for further information on Annex II), with a view to ensuring that hunting of these species is on a sustainable footing.  

In parallel, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is undertaking an analysis of available data in order to inform decisions on the retention or removal of species, or to the amendment of the open season for particular species. NPWS is also seeking to set out other short-, medium-, and long-term actions that will be required to meet Birds Directive obligations and to ensure the sustainability of the Open Seasons Order. As part of this public consultation, the NPWS will engage with stakeholder groups and members of the public to consider how best to manage the Open Seasons Order, and to gain a clearer picture on the impact of hunting on threatened bird species.


Members of the public can get involved by completing an online survey at by 17:00 on 3rd May 2023.


Further Information / Notes to the Editor


The Open Seasons Order and the EU Birds Directive


The Open Seasons Order is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and sets out the species that may be hunted, and dates between which hunting may take place. The NPWS also coordinates Ireland’s actions under the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), which seeks to conserve all wild birds in the EU by setting out rules for their protection, management, and control. The Directive covers birds, their eggs, nests, and habitats.  Annex II of the Birds Directive lists those species that may be hunted under national legislation. Under the Birds Directive, Ireland has obligations to ensure that hunting of bird species included on this Annex II complies with “principles of wise use”, amongst other things. Following recently reported declines in populations at the EU level, an EU Taskforce has been established to reverse the decline in bird species, and to review the sustainability of their hunting in the Member States. In Ireland, a number of these Annex II species are listed on the Open Seasons Order and so may be hunted at certain times of the year.  

Summary of Status of Annex II Bird Species Currently Included in the Open Seasons Order:


14 of the 21 (67%) were the subject of national-level concern, on foot of the 2019 EU Article 12 report


  1. Red Grouse 
  2. Teal
  3. Gadwall
  4. Wigeon
  5. Pintail
  6. Shoveler
  7. Scaup
  8. Tufted Duck
  9. Pochard
  10. Goldeneye
  11. Golden Plover
  12. Snipe
  13. Jack Snipe
  14. Woodcock


6 of the 21 (29%) are identified as high priority in the EU’s process


  1. Red Grouse
  2. Wigeon
  3. Pintail
  4. Scaup
  5. Tufted Duck
  6. Pochard


15 of the 21 (71%) are listed as Amber or Red on the Bird Watch Ireland Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland (BOCCI) list


  1. Red Grouse
  2. Mallard
  3. Teal
  4. Gadwall
  5. Wigeon
  6. Pintail
  7. Shoveler
  8. Scaup
  9. Tufted Duck
  10. Pochard
  11. Goldeneye
  12. Golden Plover
  13. Snipe
  14. Woodcock
  15. Greylag Goose



The Open Seasons Order (Birds), the species listed upon it, and the dates of the various Open Seasons is available at 


Ireland’s most recent report on the status and trends of birds protected under the Birds Directive (NPWS Article 12 Report, 2019) is available at 


Broader Government Measures to Protect Birds


This public consultation forms part of a broader programme of activity undertaken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to protect birds, and is part of Ireland’s response to the establishment of the EU Taskforce on the Recovery of Bird Species. This includes ongoing monitoring programmes of bird species, habitat protection and improvement, designations of Special Protection Areas as well as significant habitat and species management initiatives on the ground. This includes specific conservation programmes on bird species such as curlew, hen harrier and corncrake. With respect to species on the Order, NPWS continues to undertake surveys and monitoring programmes, for example, red grouse, breeding waders, and wetland birds, as well as providing financial and technical assistance to a range of community-based projects and research.