The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 has been published. Its principal purpose is to make it illegal to hunt deer with two or more dogs. The Bill provides in a new section 23A that a person, including the holder of a licence or permission granted under the Wildlife Act, who hunts deer with two or more dogs shall be guilty of an offence. It shall not be an offence for a person to hunt deer with two or more dogs, pursuant to a permission granted under section 42 of this Act, where it is a term of such permission that dogs may be used to hunt deer.
While the Bill is intended to outlaw hunting the carted stag with hounds (such as practised by the Ward Union Hunt), it may well have unintended consequences for other licensed deer hunters.
It is a requirement of the standard Coillte forestry licence that hunters must have access to a trained dog for purposes of tracking and recovering shot deer. Access to a trained dog is recommended best practice for all deer hunters under the Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP). It is unclear whether the Bill will have implications for hunters in this context.
It is understood that participating deer organisations are reviewing the implications of the Bill, if any.
The full text of the Bill is available through the following link: