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Summer hunting season opens

File Photo

Around 17,000 hunters were estimated to have taken to the countryside on Sunday as the hunting season began as fire warnings remain high.

According to the Game Service the number of birds shot during the 2018-19 hunting season rose by 203 per cent, largely due to an increase in the population of some of the birds that are allowed to be shot.

However, the Game Service figures are really only an estimate as they are based on a telephone survey and do not include birds shot by those who either have no hunting licence of have failed to renew it.

For last year’s hunting season 41,680 licences were issues, a 1.2 per cent reduction on the previous year. A total of 41.83 per cent of hunters take part in the summer hunting season, around 17,500 people although they go out fewer times than previously.

While the number of birds caught during the last five years has increased, that of hares has fallen, seeing a 26.2 per cent drop in 2018.

The Service on Sunday called on hunters to closely follow the law while they are out and to respect both the environment and their fellow hunters.

They called on them to be careful of the sun, to plan from beforehand where they would go and make sure someone else knew.

For its part, the Forestry Department called on hunters to be careful where they throw cigarette butts and matches and to not light fires unless in designated areas to do so.

The fine for hunting without a relevant licence is up to €2,000.

The summer hunting season allows hunting on four more occasions, August 25, September 1, 8 and 15.

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