Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (467)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

467. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to deal with the increasing population in the deer herd here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21355/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Over the last decade, available evidence suggests that the geographic distribution of all species of deer has increased, but neither the precise distribution nor the population density of these species is currently known. Deer appear to be a localised issue in many areas. In this context, there is a significant challenge in attempting to ensure that the demands of agriculture, forestry and conservation coexist and that deer populations are managed at sustainable levels, and in a responsible and ethical manner.

In 2015 my Department, together with the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, published Deer Management in Ireland – A Framework for Action, which recommends a series of actions on deer management and conservation in a number of areas, including addressing the impact of deer in places where they are abundant. Key elements from this report, in particular training and awareness in relation to Deer management issues in agriculture are now being carried out by the Wicklow Deer management project and within the forestry sector. This work is ongoing.

Adoption of best practice is fully supported by both Departments and the majority of deer management stakeholders. Best practice guidance, adapted to Irish conditions was published with the assistance of the Irish Deer Management Forum during 2018 and can be accessed via www.idmf.ie.

A number of initiatives have been carried out in Co. Wicklow for example with a view to defining locally-led approaches to cooperative deer management. My Department is currently supporting a project led by the Wicklow Deer Management Partnership and Wicklow Uplands Forum, aimed at improving cooperation between landowners and local hunters. This project builds on previous experience in Wicklow through projects such as the Ballinastoe Deer Management Project, the Calary Deer Steering Group and the Calary/North–East Wicklow Deer TB survey. These projects provide a good example for other local groups to follow, in areas affected by deer-related issues.

My Department also introduced a Deer Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme to protect forests from predation by deer in 2018 as deer can cause serious damage to trees, particularly in native woodlands. Additionally, my Department has also engaged with the Society of Irish Foresters, Teagasc and Third Level Institutes in the delivery of deer management training to professional Foresters and Contractors through a series of seminars and field training events. This work is ongoing.