Hunting / Shooting
Hunting game and other wildlife is a popular activity in Ireland. Hunting enthusiasts actively propagate game species and control their predators to maintain their sport.
At times, certain species needs to be controlled in the interest of public health and safety and to prevent serious damage to agricultural crops and livestock. Hunting can also be a necessary tool in controlling species such as deer, which have no natural predators in Ireland.
Hunting protected species is controlled under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 and those same laws restrict and regulate the methods of trapping and taking of non-protected species.
In the Wildlife Acts the word "hunt" means stalk, pursue, chase, drive, flush, capture, course, attract, follow, search for, lie in wait for, take, trap or shoot by any means whether with or without dogs, and includes killing in the course of hunting and kindred words shall be construed accordingly.
All wild birds and most of our wild mammals are protected under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012
Hunting / Shooting Crimes
All wild birds and most of our wild mammals are protected under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012; accordingly
Without the correct and valid licence, permission or derogation granted by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, it unlawful to:
Gun control primary legislation:
Under The Firearms Act (1925), Section 2
It is illegal for any civilian to use, carry or possess a firearm or ammunition without a valid firearm certificate which correctly specifies the owner, the weapon, the ammunition and its maximum permitted quantity.
OTHER HUNTING EQUIPMENT
Crossbows, spearguns and all airguns with a muzzle velocity of over one joule (including paintball markers) are legally considered firearms and have to be licensed
Spearfishing may be done using free-diving or snorkeling. Spearfishing while using SCUBA or other artificial breathing apparatus is illegal
It is illegal to hunt using a crossbow
CS gas spray, pepper spray and stun guns are all totally prohibited in this country. Importation or possession of any of these items is illegal
SHOOTING IN PUBLIC PLACES
What can be shot with an air rifle?
All wild birds and most wild mammals are protected in law and it is not legal to shoot them. However there are species that may be shot (including with an air rifle) but only to protect public health and safety or prevent serious damage to crops.
If you see someone shooting at birds, the shooter must be able to prove that the bird is a risk to public health and safety or is damaging a crop and that all other means of solving the problem have been tried before resorting to shooting.
An air rifle used in a garden or residential area to shoot birds is therefore almost certainly being used illegally no matter what species are being targeted
Applications for LICENCES from NPWS are made to:
Wildlife Licensing Unit,
National Parks and Wildlife Service,
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,
7 Ely Place,
Tel: (01) 888 3242
Firearms Licences or ‘certificates’ are issued by An Garda Síochána
Contact your local Garda Station for details
Recording evidence at the Crime Scene
Assessing whether a criminal offence has taken place may not always be straight forward and other possibilities such as natural deaths, predation and legal hunting should be considered.
If you come across a wildlife crime scene or a dead bird or object that may be related to a wildlife crime, every piece of information is – or might be – important, but it needs to be recorded properly and accurately for the authorities to have a chance of prosecuting an offender.
Before you do anything else it is very important that:
|You do NOT put yourself in danger by approaching anyone you suspect of committing a crime – they may be violent and/or aggressive.|
|You do NOT touch any dead birds or animals. They may be poisoned baits or victims of poisoning. Many poisons (e.g. Carbofuran) are extremely dangerous to us as well as wildlife in even very small amounts and can be absorbed through the skin.|
|You do NOT disturb the scene by walking around unnecessarily - small pieces of evidence (cigarette ends, footprints, the marks left by a spade etc) may be lost or trampled into the mud or grass.|
|You do NOT move any items at the scene - unless asked to do so or an animal or human"s welfare is/may be compromised by leaving it at the scene.|
|You do NOT mark the site (e.g. with a white plastic bag) Although being able to see a marker from a distance might sound like a good idea, it will also alert an offender that someone has been at the site and they might go back and remove evidence.|
|You do NOT do anything illegal yourself - leave crime to the criminals!|
Once sure that it is safe to do so:
|Record the date and time|
|Record the transport Do this as soon as possible, as suspects can be traced from the registration number
Photograph/write down any vehicle registration numbers that are or might be related to the incident. It is legal to record a registration number if you suspect that the vehicle has been or may be used in a crime.
|Record the person
Recording the offender’s face is important of course, but their clothing, the bags they’re carrying, the equipment they’re using are all important too.
|Record the scene
Take photographs or video of the scene using a mobile phone or camera etc (or make as accurate a sketch as possible).
If possible try to cover any items, perhaps with vegetation, to make them safe; but make sure you don’t disturb the crime scene in the process!
If photographing an object, try to put something beside it for scale (e.g. a coin or notebook) providing it won’t disturb the crime scene.
|Record the location
It is particularly important to record locations accurately (apps that provide GPS data are available for most smartphones)
In an urban area note the address or a description of the location. In the countryside take wide angle photographs of any landmarks; a tree, a distinctive fence line, a hill.
|Even if in doubt take a photograph and email it to the National Parks and Wildlife Service firstname.lastname@example.org|
Reporting a hunting / shooting crime
To report suspected illegal hunting activity contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service
Tel: 01-888 3242 or LoCall 1890 383 000
If you can’t reach NPWS personnel call An Garda Síochána:
If the crime is in progress or about to happen, or if the offender is still at the scene or has just left call 999 or 112
If the event is finished then either call your local Garda Station (click HERE for station directory) or the Garda Confidential Telephone Number 1800 666 111
[Although it will assist the NPWS and Gardaí if you provide as much information as possible, you do not have to give your name if you ring to report an incident.]
If there is an injured animal involved, also call a wildlife rehabilitator / vet from the contacts page of
If you witness any hunting crime, also contact
If you witness any deer hunting crime, also contact
For more information on reporting and how to follow up on a reported crime click HERE