Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, along with Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcom Noonan, published the Irish Deer Management Strategy Group’s report on developing a sustainable deer management strategy for Ireland.
This is the culmination of several months of work by the Deer Management Strategy Group, chaired by Teddy Cashman, which was set up to lead the development of a renewed vision and strategy for the management of wild deer in Ireland. The development of the report involved a thorough process including public consultation, stakeholder meetings and stakeholder sub-committees, which led to the formation of a series of recommendations, which the group has presented to the Ministers.
The report includes a summary of the responses to the Public Consultation process and a complete list of the recommendations produced by each of the sub-committees. The report lists 15 Actions, 8 of which are recommended for early implementation. These recommended actions address a wide range of issues from hunter training and forest design to land use management and the venison market. Nonetheless, there was an overarching consensus on three of these: the establishment of local deer management units in known hotspot areas, a review of the current deer Open Seasons Order and researching the viability of the development of an independent deer management agency.
Commenting on the report, Cashman said, “we were heartened by the constructive engagement of all the stakeholders in the development of this report. This kind of constructive collaboration will be key to the successful implementation of the deer management programme.”
Minister McConalogue thanked the Deer Management Strategy Group and all the stakeholders that contributed to the process for their work and added, “the growing deer population is a considerable problem and I will be actioning the recommendations immediately in the new year. This will include the creation of a deer management agency, the establishment of local deer management units and changes to the Open Seasons order. Progress from this strategy group, chaired by Teddy Cashman, with officials from my Department, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) and Coillte, is very welcome. For agriculture, our natural ecosystems and in particular our forestry ambitions, it is important that we have sustainable management of our national wild deer population. However the impact of deer proliferation extends far beyond this to road safety, animal health, public health, and not least the health and welfare of the deer themselves.”
Minister for Nature, Heritage & Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said, “an overabundance of any species can be highly damaging to biodiversity. In the case of wild deer, the most significant and obvious impact is on native woodlands. Deer browsing can prevent the natural regeneration of these habitats and inhibit their expansion, which is a particularly serious issue in ancient and long-established woodlands and can also devastate newly-planted woodlands. Preventing wild deer from accessing these precious habitats is not easy and can be very resource intensive. I’m pleased to welcome this report and the pathway it sets out towards the sustainable management of wild deer populations in Ireland, which will also bring benefits for farmland, forestry and road safety, as well as nature. I would like to thank Teddy Cashman and the other members of the group for the work carried out to date and also the significant input and engagement by all stakeholders.”
The current Deer Management Strategy group, which includes representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the NPWS, Teagasc and Coillte, will develop and advance an initial implementation plan in relation to the of short-term recommendations of the report and report back to Minsters within 9 months.