Waterfowlers' Network Annual Meeting in Ireland 7th March 2024

Collaboration and the sustainability of hunting were some of the main topics on February 12th - 13th as the Waterfowlers' Network held yet another annual meeting. This year, it was Ireland's turn to host, and the Irish partners, the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARCG), organized a successful meeting based in the town of Enniscorthy.

Text: Lene Midtgaard
Photos: NARCG and Claus Lind Christensen

Before the actual meeting, NARCG arranged a trip to the Wexford Wildlife Reserve, established in 1969. The reserve is a reclaimed area that was previously agricultural land. Today, the 200-hectare area is part of a Special Protection Area for birds. In total, over 250 different bird species have been observed in the reserve. The area is particularly known for hosting approximately 45% of the entire population of Greenland White-fronted geese during the winter. Unfortunately, only a few of the Greenland white-fronted geese were present when the Waterfowlers' Network visited, but instead, the pale-bellied brent geese, which also winter in the area, were plentifully represented.

Donations to SOTKA

After the excursion, the meeting's biggest surprise was revealed. NARCG and TP Veronica Murphy presented an impressive check of 25,000 euros to the SOTKA project, operated by the Finnish Wildlife Agency. SOTKA aims to restore shallow wetlands that serve as breeding grounds for several bird species, such as pintails and wigeons. The generous donation ensures that one wetland can be established each year for the next 5 years. Later in the meeting, the chairman of the Waterfowlers' Network also presented a donation to SOTKA from the Danish foundation, Hunters Nature Foundation, on 2,325 euros. Learn more about SOTKA here: https://www.waterfowlersnetwork.com/2242

Together we can

Collaboration along the flyway of migratory birds is important, and our knowledge of populations and their well-being is crucial. Stanislas Sibille, Conservation Policy Officer from FACE, emphasized this, stating that the data provided by hunters, such as harvest reporting, wing collection, and similar activities, contribute to creating a knowledge base that supports the sustainability of hunting. Stanislas Sibille gave a presentation on the EU's process regarding sustainable hunting of migratory birds, which led to further discussion at the meeting, highlighting how individual countries and collective efforts can make a difference. Collaborations like the Waterfowlers' Network are precisely aimed at ensuring relevant partnerships and knowledge sharing, benefiting both birds and hunters.

Pale-bellied brent geese made an impressive spectacle at Wexford Wildlife Reserve.

Pale-bellied brent geese made an impressive spectacle at Wexford Wildlife Reserve.