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Wildlife Regulations

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 10 November 2021

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Questions (114, 115)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

114. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will address a matter regarding the culling of deer (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55139/21]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

115. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the management of the deer population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55151/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 115 together.

While the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department does licence hunting of deer, and does actively manage deer on their property, NPWS does not own the deer population. Deer populations by their nature are mobile and have a home range that is not constrained by landownership boundaries. These home ranges are normally defined by physical landscape features such as mountains, lakes, rivers, built up areas and availability of suitable habitat within that home range.

Wild deer in the State are protected under the Wildlife Acts, national culls are not carried out and the only culling done is within the State National Parks.

However, deer on any lands can be controlled by the landowner once that control is in accordance with current legislation, in this case, the Wildlife Act. During the annual open season, deer can legally be shot under licence. The season operates generally from 1 September to the last day of February, depending on the species and gender of deer. My Department has received over 5,800 applications so far this season for deer hunting licences under Section 29 of the Wildlife Act.

In terms of on private property, landowners may apply to my Department for permission under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts to cull deer where this is deemed necessary outside the annual open seasons. These permissions offer a facility whereby a person can obtain a permit, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual deer on specific lands. Applications are investigated by local staff to determine if serious damage is being caused and if so, the most practical method of stopping or controlling the problem. Permissions are only issued where there is evidence of such damage. 

My colleague Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and I have been in communication in recent weeks in relation to the re-establishment of a version of the Irish Deer Management Forum, where it is planned that many topics in relation to deer management will be discussed. Our Officials are currently working together to establish the structures of such a forum and further details will be made available in due course.

The following statistics are the number of deer shot under licence under Section 29 and Section 42 of the Wildlife Act for each of the previous five years. The returns are made by licence holders on an annual basis.  

Deer shot under licence under Section 29 and Section 42 of the Wildlife Act

Year

Section 29 – Deer Hunting Licence

Section 42 – Serious Damage Licence

2016

32,901

2,435

2017

37,241

3,046

2018

41,184

5,416

2019

44,381

7,218

2020*

35,134

4,648

*2020 figure is an ongoing figure as returns continue to be collected by the NPWS.

Question No. 115 answered with Question No. 114.
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