Clarity needed for country sports during lockdown

CAI welcome and fully support last weeks announcement from the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that he has once again permitted angling can continue and the angling estate remains open during this lockdown period. However there is still clarity needed in regard to other country sports following the new restrictions introduced on the 7th January.

CAI are receiving a large number of calls form members confused and seeking clarity on the matter. We have written to local MLAs and MPs on behalf of you our members calling for guidance on the matter and that country sports be permitted.

CAI is fully supportive of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s efforts to reduce the spread, and minimise the effect, of COVID-19. Throughout the crisis we have advised our members and supporters in accordance with the Government’s guidance, and we will continue to do so.

While CAI understand that restrictions in the fight against COVID-19 are a devolved matter, the UK government in England on Thursday 7th January followed by Wales on the 8th confirmed that shooting was a legitimate form of exercise during their respective lockdown periods.

We have asked our representatives to give clarity or to ask the relevant department to do so on the issue of country sports activities such as rough shooing, deer stalking and wildfowling so that they can continue under daily exercise. They are physical activities that has many proven health benefits. This of course would be in line with the restrictions on exercise which are clearly defined in the regulations. Given the nature of country sports, and the way in which these activities can be undertaken, it is clear that they can take place under these restrictions, and would not jeopardise the Government’s efforts in tackling this pandemic. Similar to angling which we welcome has once again been permitted during this lockdown period by Minister Poots.

CAI highlighted our member’s continue to be out in the vital role to support the farming community through the control of vermin in the lead up to peak lambing season and crop protection. However, they are unsure if in addition they can take game such as pheasant or to manage deer numbers to protect flora and fauna for example is still allowed while the respective season is still open.

Gary McCartney NI Regional Director said: “Following the announcement in England and now Wales that country sports are classed under essential exercise, we now call on our Ministers to do the same. Our activities have many health benefits and clarity would clear up the confusing and conflicting COVID 19 restrictions our members face”.

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