The objective of this designation is the control of hunting especially in wetland areas.
Wildfowl Sanctuaries are used to protect certain ducks, geese and wader species from hunting, with their habitats having to be protected by some other designation. e.g. Ramser Site, SPA, Biogenetic Reserve etc.
Wildfowl Sanctuaries are designated on state or private land by statuary instrument under Section 24 of the 1976 Wildlife Act and the 2000 Wildlife (Amendment) Act.
They do not enjoy as strict a legal backing as SPAs and are not normally recognised by local authorities.
By 1996 Ireland had 68 sites designated as sanctuaries, 17 of these had a shared designation with Special Protection Areas and 46 of the sites had a shared designation with Ramser Convention Sites.
The designation’s powers are the control of hunting of listed species under Open Seasons Order.
Wildfowl species which are protected from hunting include:
Brent Geese (Branta bernicla brota) Blacktailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Teal (Anas Crecca) Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Shelduck (Tandorna tadorna) Knot (Calidris canutus)
Wigeon (Anas penelope) Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Curlew (Numenius arquata) Ringed Plover (Charadius biaticula)
Redshank (tringa totanus) Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
In Ireland the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht are the responsible authorities for Wildfowl Sanctuaries. Most are small in size (less than 500 hectares) and are designated along with a stronger designation mechanism which is aimed at protecting the wildfowl’s habitat.