Recommendations

Recommendations issued by the Irish Deer Management Forum from its inception to December 2016

IDMF Recommendation 1

Deer and TB Calary County Wicklow

1. On the grounds of deer welfare, both Departments should work with landowners, land managers, hunters and wildlife interests to reduce both the density of deer (namely Sika- Cervus nippon) in the Calary area of County Wicklow and the high incidence of Bovine TB infection within the deer herd in that area.

2. Further to Point 1 above, an independently facilitated Deer Management Group (DMG) should be established amongst key stakeholders. The group should develop and coordinate the implementation of an appropriate deer management plan for the area of the study.

3. Tom Shortt (IFA) has agreed to convene a TB in deer subcommittee of the Forum to provide integrated guidance and advice on such a plan from IDMF members and other experts, in conjunction with the Wicklow Deer Management Partnership.

4. The Irish Deer Management Forum considers that the high incidence of BTB in the Calary area of County Wicklow may be a localised issue. Until further studies are conducted these results should not be taken as an indicator of BTB levels within deer elsewhere in Ireland.

5. Members of the Forum are concerned that in other areas of high incidence of BTB in cattle there may also be infection within the deer herd and research should be directed by the Departments to a small number of other areas in consultation with the Forum.

6. The Forum considers however that if deer and cattle share feeders for example the potential for transfer exists and this should be avoided through implementation of improved hygiene measures at feeding stations. An additional potential infection pathway may also exist where the disposal of infected offal and viscera, arising from hunting of deer is not disposed of in a hygienic and secure manner, and is made available to scavenging by wildlife and further potential infection of both wildlife and cattle. Strict hygiene protocols should be introduced for the safe disposal of such material, where hunting takes place.

IDMF Recommendation 2

Mandatory Certification of Hunters

1. “That the IDMF recommend to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine that Certification of Competency from an accredited source in knowledge of wild deer species, disease recognition, management, culling and safe methods of control, together with marksmanship and safe usage and storage of firearms, be a mandatory requirement before the grant of a licence to hunt wild deer; and that mandatory certification be introduced on a phased basis over a five year period commencing on the 1st day of January 2018 for existing holders of deer hunting licences, and with immediate effect from the same date for all new applicants for deer hunting licences”.

IDMF Recommendation 3

National Database of Deer Hunting Returns

A new database, which is in the current NPWS charter, is required. This would comply with current EU legislation and be more effective and efficient for license holders in addition to assisting the administration of the system by NPWS staff.

The greatest obstacles to upgrading are:

  • Resources — a budget is required to develop and implement the new system
  • Staff shortages — the Wildlife Licensing Unit have lost a number of staff in recent years who have not been replaced

An efficient online system would significantly reduce time and costs spent on paperwork and internal communications with regard to individual licences and returns. It would also lead to a more reliable dataset with respect to numbers of deer shot, which is critical data in relation to the management of the national herd.

The following recommendations with regard to a modern, online system would be:

  • A unique ID number for all license holders on a swipe card with photo ID which can be used to renew the license online.
  • A tagging system similar to that used for livestock – Tags can be issued with the ID and carcass numbers
  • The onus would be on the license holder to submit accurate returns as failure to do so should result in fines and/or the license being revoked.
  • Legislation, i.e. the Wildlife Acts and Data Protection requirements need to be addressed before an online system is developed and implemented.
  • Environmental data such as the location where the deer was shot, species and sex, will give considerable added value to the information supplied.
  • A license fee should be considered to defray costs associated with the administration of licenses