Monthly Archives: March 2021

Minister Noonan opens applications for the 2021/2022 Deer Hunting Season and welcomes hunters back to the countryside to support sustainable deer management







The following statement has today 15th March 2021 been published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

“The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has announced that application forms and guidance notes for the 2021/2022 Deer Hunting Season are now available on the NPWS Website .

The NPWS is striving to ensure that all applications are dealt with in a timely manner and has put in place measures to ensure the least amount of disruption, despite the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Applications can now be emailed or posted using the appropriate application form and, similar to last season, there will be no requirement for a landowner’s signature but landowner details must be provided on the application form.

Commenting on the need for a smoother application process and welcoming hunters back to the countryside, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D., said:

“Last year was extremely challenging in terms of the administration of deer hunting licences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we have made changes to ensure a smoother process and are confident that we will be able to deal with the demand the 2021/2022 season will bring. We’ve all had our movement curtailed due to the pandemic and hunting activity last season was greatly reduced. As restrictions ease, I’d like to welcome hunters back to the countryside and encourage anyone with an interest in hunting to engage with the relevant groups. Deer populations are abundant across much of the country, and in some places can cause extensive damage to habitats, native woodlands, commercial timber forests and arable crops. For many years, I’ve been a committed vegetarian and animal rights activist. However, I also believe that responsible hunting, with the correct training, oversight, equipment and – of course – licence can reduce pressures on biodiversity and have an overall positive impact on nature by helping to manage deer populations at a sustainable level, in the absence of predators.”

Minister Noonan also reaffirmed his commitment to introducing mandatory certification training for first-time hunters:

“My Department is committed to introducing mandatory certification training for first-time hunters. It had been intended to introduce it for the 2021/22 season but unfortunately, this project, like so many others across all sectors of society, has had to be deferred due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Much work has gone on behind the scenes to put the foundations in place for this project and this requirement will be introduced once it is viable and safe to do so for all concerned, and my Department will make sure it is delivered to the highest standard possible.”    

Under the Wildlife Acts, annual licences are required to hunt deer during the Open Season, which is the period during which deer can be legally shot. The Open Season for deer operates generally from 1 September in a given year to 28 February the following year, depending on the species and gender of deer. About 5,500 deer hunting licences are issued each season, of which in the region of 1,000 are first-time applicants”.






Applications for Deer Hunting Licences for the 2021/2022 season, under Section 29 (1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 to 2018, are now available on the National Parks & Wildlife Service website. Application for the DHL can be made online.

Click here for a link to the NPWS website.

The following documents including full instructions can now be accessed:

  • Email Application Form
  • Manual Application form
  • Guidance Note
  • Wild Deer Open Season Dates






The Wildlife Licencing Unit of National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has today announced that mandatory certification for first-time applicants for the Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) has been postponed and is now set for the Season 2022-2023 and not for 2021-2022 as previously announced.

The reason given was “the ongoing impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic”. No further explanation has been provided.

This can be seen as a major setback to any question of mandatory certification, and raises a  question mark over official commitment to safe, efficient and humane management of wild deer by competent and certified licensed hunters.

Deer Alliance HCAP has campaigned for training, assessment and certification since establishment in 2003, in partnership and with the support of all relevant stakeholders including NPWS, Coillte, Forest Service and different deer organisations.

Deer Alliance HCAP remains committed to the principle of the safe, efficient and humane management of wild deer by competent and certified licensed hunters, through training, assessment and certification of committed hunters, despite this setback.





National Parks & Wildlife Service have confirmed that Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) application forms will NOT be posted out individually to existing licence holders this year, as would be usual. Instead, application forms will shortly be available to download from the NPWS website.

NPWS have also confirmed that individual landowner permissions will NOT be required this year.

These changes arise from the impact of Covid 19 on the operation of the NPWS Wildlife Licensng Unit.

First-time applicants for the DHL will still be required to provide evidence of landowner permission, as well as evidence of HCAP certification or equivalent.

See NPWS statement here.

See also NPWS statement on mandatory certification for first-time DHL applicants, published on 13th March 2020 here.