I am aware that the Wild Nephin-Ballycroy National Park was temporarily closed for a short period over a number of mornings in late December 2018 and early January 2019. As you will appreciate, while the state owns the lands making up the National Park, some of these holdings include areas where shooting and fishing rights are in the ownership of third parties. In common with all landowners in the country, the state must respect these pre-existing property rights.
The Deer hunting in question occurred in the area of Altnabrockey and Muinguell, Bellacorick. A third party owns a significant area of shooting and fishing rights in the townlands of Altnabrockey and Muinguell, including the state owned properties and where the Western Way walking route is passing through.
The regional staff of Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park received a notice from this third party, advising that a written permission had been given to a deer hunter to shoot deer over the area of land mentioned above. There was further contact from the deer hunter who provided the regional staff with the information on the dates and times of his deer hunt.
National Parks and Wildlife Staff posted notices at all access points advising the public of the activities taking place for a certain period in the mornings only.
Wild deer in the State are protected under the Wildlife Acts, however, there is an annual open season during which deer can be legally shot under licence. The open season for deer operates generally from 1st September to the last day of February, depending on the species and gender of deer.
The Department appreciates that temporary closures of this kind might be inconvenient for the public. Representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department plan to hold a meeting with the aforementioned third party, with the aim to reach a mutually acceptable management agreement for any such deer hunting in the future.