Author Archives: Liam Nolan

CLOSING DATE FOR HCAP MCQ 3rd MARCH 2018

The closing date for applications for the HCAP MCQ to be held on Saturday 3rd March 2018 is midnight on Monday 25th February 2018. Applications received after that deadline will be listed for the next MCQ after 3rd March 2018.

Intending Candidates are reminded that the HCAP Fee will increase from €150.00 to €165.00 with effect from 1st March 2018 (see previous posting under the heading “Increase in HCAP Fee”).

 

PRIVATISATION OF DEER MANAGEMENT ON STATE LANDS?

Wicklow Sika stag: is management of deer on State lands to be privatised, and if so, what will be the effect on deer populations and on the ordinary licensed hunter?

The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine has published a Request for Tenders (RFT) for the provision of deer management services in the Co. Wicklow region. The tender calls for the establishment of at least three deer management units in the Wicklow region to include the development of deer management plans for each of these groups and implementation of these plans over a three-year period. The contract is valued at €120000.00 (excluding VAT) over the three-year life of the contract. The RFT was published on 1st February 2018 with a closing date for tenders of 12.00 noon on 8th March 2018. All queries relating to the tender must be submitted not later than 12.00 noon on 24th February 2018.

Full details of the RFT are available on the Government’s eTenders Procurement website, www.etenders.gov.ie.

Parties tendering for this contract will be required to satisfy stringent criteria as to competence, experience and the structural capacity to fulfil the conditions of the contract. They will be required to carry Employer’s Liability, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance, and to be fully tax-compliant i.e. to possess a current Tax Clearance Certificate. The areas targeted as Deer Management Unit (DMU) zones are not identified. There is no indication whether the successful contracting party will be permitted to operate outside the normal hunting framework e.g. whether night shooting will be permitted, whether Closed-Season shooting will be permitted as a matter of course under Section 42 licences, or, where Coillte forest property is involved, whether ordinary hours of access only will apply (dawn to 11.00 a.m., Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays) or whether use of vehicles will be permitted. There is no mention of what is to happen to culled deer e.g. whether they become the property of the contracting party and accrue to his benefit financially. There is provision under the ordinary terms of any Government contract for the involvement of sub-contractors, which may allow the contracting party to achieve financial benefit from allowing downstream persons (e.g. individual hunters) to participate as members of any deer management group operating in one or other of the DMUs. Finally, the contracting party will be expected to produce and maintain a Deer Management Plan for each DMU in accordance with the precedent set out at Annex B of the tender documentation. The full tender documentation (72 pages total) can be accessed only by registering as a User on the eTenders website.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The process of tendering is complex and provides that Tender replies should include the following headings to outline how tenderers propose to deliver deer management services in the Wicklow region:

a) Tenderers must provide a detailed description of the operations; resources; and methodology to be deployed to meet the requirements and the specifications. Tenderers must demonstrate in their replies that they have knowledge and expertise in delivering similar services and that the proposed approach is consistent with best practice.

b) A detailed project management plan should be included in the tender reply showing clearly the various steps/stages in the process including timelines and milestones for delivery.

c) Number of days for each task, arrangements proposed for quality control of the outputs/deliverables and project management and leadership arrangements should also be included. This should include a brief outline of the proposed approach in the following areas;

  • Establishing baseline data on damage levels (using most up to date methods from Irish research)
  • Data Collection, data management, security and reporting
  • Establishing deer management units
  • Implementation of deer management plans
  • Incorporation of existing systems, structures and relationships
  • Provision of advice and technical support to landowners, hunters and other stakeholders
  • Support for awareness, education, knowledge transfer and training (this may include knowledge transfer outside the Wicklow region in an effort to promote best practice in areas where deer issues are emerging)
  • Applying support and advice from applied research
  • Deer welfare safeguards

The project plan should state that the tenderer will comply with the principles set out in “Deer management in Ireland, A framework for action”.

d)  A payment schedule should also be set out in the tender reply tied to project milestones.

Deliverables shall include the following:

• Establishment of at least 3 deer management units (DMU’s) in the County Wicklow region (this may include parts of south County Dublin north County Wexford and east County Carlow see Annex 1 map).

• Preparation and implementation of structured deer management plans for each of these deer management units (a single management plan can cover all DMU’s). Such should represent a collaborative action plan between landowners, hunters and key stakeholders and should be an active document insofar as records are logged and used throughout the 3-year management period for key decision making.

• Final report

The successful tenderer will report annually to both Departments immediately prior to and
following hunting seasons and keep the Irish Deer Management Forum (IDMF) updated on progress.

It is suggested that this proposal will put sustainable deer management within the county on a more professional basis and promote knowledge transfer in the county, as well as mainstreaming of the project and sharing of knowledge where required outside Co. Wicklow.

The final report will include the following:

• Description of actions undertaken to increase awareness for landowners around the mechanisms for control and management of deer both within the project area, and in surrounding areas.

• Outline of implementation (across all DMU’s) of impact assessment method on grass and forests.

• Establishment of baseline data and objective damage levels using the standardised measuring techniques specified. And monitor damage levels over the 3 years period.

• Determination of appropriate cull levels on an annual basis per DMU and provision of assistance and advice to landowners about this process

• Results and analysis of monitoring and recording of cull activity within the project area, including mechanisms aimed at recording and verification of cull levels within the project areas

• Analysis of the work completed in the past three years, what worked well, what didn’t, what improvements could be made to the collaborative DMU approach to deer management. Conclusions and recommendations for the future should be included.

• The report should include a comprehensive analysis outlining whether or not a sustainable deer population has been achieved based on impact analysis and density surveys.

 

HCAP MCQ SATURDAY 3rd MARCH 2018 – ELIGIBLE CANDIDATES

The next HCAP MCQ in the 2018 Series will take place on Saturday 3rd March 2018 (4.00 p.m.) in the Ionad Dara Community Centre, Goresbridge, Co. Kilkenny. The Range Test for successful candidates from this MCQ will take place on Saturday 24th March 2018 at the Midland National Shooting Ground, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly from 10.00 a.m. on the day in question.

The Candidates listed below are eligible for this MCQ. Candidates with the numerical prefix 2016 applied for HCAP in 2016 but did not sit any MCQ in 2016 or in 2017. Failure to participate in any MCQ in March or April 2018 will lead to striking off of these candidates from list of eligible candidates. Such candidates may re-apply later subject to payment of Repeat Fee €50.00. HCAP Fees are non-refundable. This apples also to 2017 Candidates with a HCAP Number ending 2017/0172 or earlier.

Application for HCAP can be made online. Payment €150.00 can also be made online through PayPal using any valid debit card or credit card (individual PayPal accounts are not needed).

The HCAP Fee will increase with effect from midnight on 28th February 2018, from €150.00 to €165.00 (see previous posting headed “Increase in HCAP Fee”).

All candidates listed below are eligible for the MCQ taking place on 3rd March 2018.
Candidates unable to attend on 3rd March 2018 will be automatically carried forward to the next scheduled MCQ date and so on until they sit the MCQ and can proceed to the Range Test but must notify Deer Alliance HCAP in advance of any deferral.

Balukonis, Valentinas, 2018/0011
Brillant, Philippe, 2017/0057
Brophy, Justin, 2016/0076
Brown, Bernard, 2016/0005
Bury, Dariusz, 2017/0196
Canavan, Hugh, 2018/0022
Carey, John Paul, 2016/0006
Carton, Pauraic, 2017/0137
Cashman, Vincent, 2018/0006
Connolly, Paul, 2018/0030
Connolly, Steven, 2018/0031
Cunningham, Bryan, 2016/0013
Delaney, James, 2017/0192
Delaney, Liam, 2017/0175
Fitzpatrick,Robert, 2017/0197
Forde, Desmond, 2017/0177
Fox, Denis, 2017/0118
Gacesa, Milorad, 2018/0033
Gajdos, Martin, 2017/0193
Gallagher, Thomas, 2018/0034
Galvin, Emmet, 2018/0005
Gillespie, Liam, 2016/0026
Graham, David, 2018/0028
Hegarty, Michael, 2017/0186
Hickey, Gary, 2017/0176
Horan, Barry, 2017/0138
Horgan, John, 2017/0149
Hourigan, Gerard, 2017/0187
Howell, Myles, 2017/0179
Hyland, Enda, 2017/0181
Hynes, Eddie, 2017/0185
Jolondcovschi, Serghei, 2018/0001
Joyce, James, 2017/0183
Kearney, David, 2017/0174
Kearney, Luke, 2017/0189
Kelly, Gary, 2017/0201
Lane, Michael, 2017/0081
Meere, John, 2018/0024
McCloskey, Mark, 2018/0003
McDermott, Sean, 2017/0188
McManus, Rory, 2017/0184
Moore, Karl, 2018/0023
Morrissey, Mark, 2018/0027
Mullen, Philip, 2017/0180
Murphy, Tyrone, 2017/0198
Murray, Patrick, 2017/0178
O’Brien Ralph, 2018/0004
O’Hanlon, Chris, 2017/191
O’Keeffe, Flavian, 2017/0190
O’Mahony, Killian, 2017/0200
Prendergast, Denis, 2016/010
Rosoiu, Ionut Bogdan, 2018/0029
Rotaru, Ion Marius, 2018/0032
Serafinski, Tommy, 2018/0002
Smith, Donal, 2018/0008
Smyth, Gary, 2017/0182
Stoffell, Barry, 2018/0009
Stuart, John, 2018/0025
Tice, Patrick, 2018/0007
Tierney, Mark, 2017/0045
Walsh, Peter, 2017/0199
Warren, Alan, 2017/0173

This list will be updated weekly as applications are received. The ceiling number of candidates at any sitting of the MCQ is a maximum of 100. See our previous posting for a full schedule of all dates in 2018.

TRAINING WORKSHOP

Subject to demand, MCQs are usually preceded by optional Training Workshops. Participation is optional. Such Workshops run from 10.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. approximately on the same day as the MCQ, at the same venue, and are subject to an additional cost of €50.00, payable on the day. Booking can be made by email to deeralliance@gmail.com or by text to 086 1927 845 in the week prior to date of Workshop/MCQ.

STALKER TRAINING MANUAL

The Deer Alliance Stalker Training Manual is an optional purchase and can be ordered through the Online Applications section of the Deer Alliance website, www.deeralliance.ie, cost €35.00 incl. p. & p.

NOTE ON MANDATORY CERTIFICATION (SEE ALSO PREVIOUS POSTINGS)

HCAP Certification is required for all Coillte Licensees and all Coillte Nominated Stalkers. It is intended, and expected, that from an early date, not necessarily 1st January 2018, HCAP certification or equivalent will be required for all NEW first-time Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) applicants regardless of whether they are hunting on Coillte forest property or on private land. It is expected that existing DHL holders hunting on private land will also be required to be certified but will have a grace period of five years from implementation to obtain HCAP Certification.

Recent confusion has arisen because the outgoing Minister chose not to fully implement the Recommendation on mandatory certification put forward by the Irish Deer Management Forum (fully covered in other postings on this site and on the website of the IDMF) according to the recommended schedule and timeline, despite previous assurances to the Forum and to Deer Alliance that the Recommendation would be fully implemented in its original form. It remains the position of the IDMF that mandatory certification should be implemented within the shortest possible timespan. Evidence of competency for licences issued under the provisions of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended) is already provided for under the Act (see Section 28 of the Act) but successive Ministers have to date failed to bring this provision into effect. Implementation is the subject of ongoing dialogue with the newly appointed Minister, Josepha Madigan T.D. (appointed as Minister on 30th November 2017 and not previously engaged in the process of implementation).

HCAP-CERTIFIED CANDIDATES, 13th FEBRUARY 2018

The following Candidates are deemed to be HCAP-Certified following successful completion of a closed HCAP MCQ held on 9th February 2018 and Range Test held on 13th February 2018 for members of the Field Staff of National Parks & Wildlife Service (Conservation Rangers, District Conservation Officers and Regional Managers).

Date of Certification: 13th February 2018.

Byrne, Carl, 2018/0018
Duffy, Brian, 2018/0014
Edwards, Ian, 2018/0010
Foley, Ciaran, 2018/0021
Griffin, John, 2018/0019
Hassett, Seamus, 2017/0195
McLindon, Hugh, 2018/0017
Meskell, Eamonn, 2017/0194
O’Sullivan, Padruig, 2018/0013
Stephens, Raymond, 2018/0015
Thompson, Roy, 2018/0016
Webb, Andrea, 2018/0026

There were two qualified Deferrals, who will have their opportunity of completing the Range Test stage of HCAP later in the year.

All Candidates were presented with their HCAP Certificates, ID Cards and Badges at the conclusion of their successful Range Test.

INCREASE IN HCAP FEE

The HCAP Fee will increase from €150.00 to €165.00 with effect from 1st March 2018.

The increase of 10% is the only increase in the HCAP Fee in the twelve years since 2006 and is necessitated by a doubling in the cost-per-candidate Range fee incurred by Deer Alliance HCAP in respect of the Range Test stage of HCAP.

Deer Alliance HCAP runs on a break-even, not-for-profit basis and apart from administrative expenses, all revenues are utilised to ongoing improvement and development of HCAP and to keep cost to candidates at the lowest possible level. Deer Alliance HCAP publishes its quarterly management accounts to its representative stakeholder groups at each meeting of the HCAP Assessment Committee and its accounts are independently audited annually in compliance with best practice.

The cost of HCAP compares favourably with other assessment models internationally, including the UK’s DSC1, Germany’s DJV and all other European models of training, assessment and certification. While Deer Alliance HCAP regrets this increase, it is necessary and unavoidable at this time.

Applications received between date of this announcement and midnight on 28th February 2018 will be honoured at the existing rate of €150.00.

 

NARGC STATEMENT ON HCAP – MISLEADING OR JUST DISHONEST?

A statement has appeared on the website of the National Association of Regional Games Councils headed “Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP)”. That statement is at best misleading and at worse just plain dishonest.

The statement addresses the requirement for mandatory certification as a prerequisite for issue of a Deer Hunting Licence (DHL), which follows a recommendation from the Irish Deer Management Forum (“the Forum”). In March 2016, after exhaustive debate, the Forum unanimously adopted the following recommendation for submission to the appointing Ministers: “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”.

This recommendation was duly submitted to the Ministers concerned and confirmation of adoption of the recommendation was subsequently received by the Forum.

The NARGC statement asserts that “there was no consultation that we the NARGC were aware of and have this requirement forced upon us”. The NARGC have had a seat at the Forum table from Day One and were fully involved in all deliberations of the Forum, including representation on the Communications, Training & Best Practice Working Group which was responsible for framing the Recommendation. Training and certification for deer hunters was adopted as a priority objective for the Forum from date of appointment of the Forum and was dealt with in detail in numerous submissions made in the process of public consultation over a two-year period. It is at best disingenuous to suggest that the NARCG were not party to consultations, which were exhaustive.

In fact, as can be seen from the Recommendation, certification is not limited to Deer Alliance HCAP. So far as Deer Alliance HCAP is concerned, “HCAP or equivalent” has always been and continues to be, the criterion for certification. By no means does mandatory certification place Deer Alliance (HCAP) “at the centre of what is a commercial venture, with no viable alternatives open […]”. Deer Alliance HCAP is a not-for-profit body, operating on a break-even basis and with full disclosure of all finances. It is open to any third party to put forward a programme for training, assessment and certification, with HCAP as a valid benchmark for measurement of equivalency. HCAP has processed some 2400 candidates since 2005, when certification became a mandatory requirement for hunters wishing to hunt deer on Coillte forest property. HCAP des not consist of merely of “answering 30 multi choice questions and attending a range test”. Candidates must answer a minimum of forty questions correctly, and then passing a rigorous test of firearms handling and marksmanship. Both stages are demanding of ability and generally, only those candidates who engage in optional Training Workshops and careful study of the Deer Alliance Stalker Training Manual, and then show up for the Range Test with firearms correctly zeroed, safe to use and being capable of putting the requisite number of rounds onto the target on their first attempt, achieve maximum results.

It may be the case that internal dissension and seismic change interfered with the NARGC’s involvement with the different processes and debates engaged in by the Forum in recent months. That is no excuse for misleading their membership as to consultation, or for denigrating a process of assessment and certification recognised as fit for purpose by Coillte Teoranta and National Parks & Wildlife Service; or for disrespecting the voluntary work of all those engaged in Deer Alliance HCAP, including the different deer organisations such as the Irish Deer Society and the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, which have done far more for deer and for deer hunters than any other shooting organisation over the last forty years.

Statement by the Minister on Certification for licensed deer hunters

The following Statement appeared on the website of the National Parks & Wildlife Service on Tuesday 21st November 2017:

Statement by the Minister on Certification for licensed deer hunters
Date Released: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Certification for licensed deer hunters

Background

The Department grants some 4,700 licences annually to hunt deer during the Open Season. In March 2015 the Department along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine published the report Deer Management in Ireland – A Framework for Action which includes policy recommendations relating to deer conservation and management. An Irish Deer Management Forum was established to implement the various actions listed in the Report.

The Forum has issued a number of recommendations including a recommendation that mandatory certification of deer hunters should be introduced on a phased basis over a five year period from 1st January 2018 for existing licensed deer hunters and that new deer hunters should have the required certification from 1 January 2018.

Minister’s Position

The Minister acknowledges the importance of ensuring that deer hunting is carried out in a safe manner. In that context the Minister is considering how best to implement the recommendations of the group having regard to a range of factors including the fact that there are many hunters with many years of experience, knowledge and expertise and also the need to ensure and the most appropriate training and certification process would ultimately be implemented having regard to the most up-to-date safety, conservation and hunting considerations in taking account of both local and international best practice.

In that regard the Minister is satisfied that the most appropriate course of action is to consider the introduction of an appropriate training and certification process for first time applicants for deer hunting licences to commence from a date which will be determined in due course but certainly no later than 2020.

(end of statement)

COMMENT

Deer Alliance HCAP is deeply concerned at this statement. It goes against the recommendation of the Irish Deer Management Forum and contradicts the Forum’s understanding of the Minister’s position as communicated to the Forum by the Minister and her representatives since the Recommendation on Mandatory Certification was submitted to the Minister some eighteen months ago. The Forum, and Deer Alliance HCAP, had been assured on several occasions that the recommendation on mandatory certification had been adopted and would be implemented with effect from 1st January 2018. In the intervening period Deer Alliance HCAP has worked assiduously to ensure a state of readiness for implementation of mandatory certification from 1st January 2018, including setting up a series of twelve HCAP MCQ dates and six HCAP Range Tests in 2018.

The Minister did not communicate with the Irish Deer Management Forum prior to publication of her statement and it remains the Forum’s position that its Recommendation in its original form is the only acceptable position, both from the viewpoint of deer welfare and from the viewpoint of safe, efficient and humane control of wild deer.

Deer Alliance HCAP understands that the Forum’s Chair will communicate this position to the Minister at the earliest time and seek clarification as to why the Minister has apparently reneged on an agreed and adopted position without consultation with the Forum.

MANDATORY CERTIFICATION – RESPONSE TO QUERIES

There has been much discussion, speculation and misinformation on the subject of mandatory certification for deer hunters as a prerequisite for the Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) since its introduction was formally announced here and elsewhere last month. It is appropriate that Deer Alliance HCAP addresses the issues raised, and set the record straight where concerns have been expressed.

1: Deer Alliance HCAP is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation in existence since 2003 and running the Hunter Competence Assessment programme (HCAP) since 2005. The Deer Alliance came together as a response to the requirement on the part of Coillte Teoranta for minimum competency requirements for all persons hunting wild deer on Coillte forest property, in compliance with forest certification and health and safety requirements, as well as public safety issues. Initial funding for the project came in the form of grants received from Coillte, NPWS, Forest Service, Irish Deer Society, Wild Deer Association of Ireland, Wicklow Deer Management & Conservation Group and the Wicklow Deer Society.

2: Deer Alliance originally comprised a number of stakeholders drawn together in 2001 to formulate an appropriate certification process. These stakeholders included the Irish Deer Society, Wild Deer Association of Ireland, Wicklow Deer Management & Conservation Group, Wicklow Deer Society, Coillte, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Garda Siochana, Irish Farmers’ Association, Irish Timber Growers’ Association and a representative of commercial stalking interests. The Deer Alliance HCAP Committee has been chaired by a representative of NPWS since 2005 and prior to that, by the Managing Director, Forestry, Coillte Teo. A Coillte representative served as Treasurer of the Committee from 2005 to 2017 and that role is now filled by a representative of the Irish Deer Society. Liam M. Nolan has served as Secretary/Administrator of HCAP since inception in 2001 and continues in that capacity.

3: It has been the policy of all the deer organisations concerned for several decades that training and certification of competency should be a prerequisite for the issue of the Deer Hunting Licence (DHL). This policy was adopted by Deer Alliance HCAP (including all stakeholders) in 2005 and Deer Alliance has worked towards this end since HCAP was launched in 2005, since which certification (HCAP) has been a mandatory requirement for hunters on Coillte forest property. While only approximately 1300 licensed deer hunters hunt on Coillte forest property (and must have HCAP before they can tender for or hunt on Coillte forest property), almost twice that number have been processed by Deer Alliance HCAP since 2005. The success of HCAP speaks for itself, and is now seen as a badge of honour and achievement by those who hold it.

4: In March 2015 the Irish Deer Management Forum came into being, after a much-publicised and long-drawn-out process of public consultation. Membership of the Forum comprises nineteen stakeholder representatives under an independent Chair, charged with formulation of recommendations dealing with overall management of wild deer in Ireland. Membership of the Forum is by Ministerial invitation and appointment. Full details of the Forum, including membership information, can be seen at www.idmf.ie and/or www.deerforum.ie.

5: In December 2015, after exhaustive debate, the Forum unanimously adopted the following recommendation for submission to the appointing Ministers: “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”.

This recommendation was duly submitted to the Ministers concerned and confirmation of adoption of the recommendation was subsequently received by the Forum.

6: There can be no lack of awareness of impending introduction of mandatory certification amongst the main body of licensed deer hunters as there has been constant and recurring discussion amongst the representative organisations for several years and indeed, was a recurring point in submissions made during the public consultation process leading to the establishment of the Irish Deer Management Forum. Certification was also identified in the key document, “Deer Management in Ireland: A Framework for Action”, which can be accessed through the IDMF website.

7: Deer Alliance HCAP has now put in place a structure to handle the expected future take-up of HCAP certification. Given that approximately half of the 4900 holders of the DHL require to be certified (the balance being already processed since 2005) and given an average of 600 new entrants to stalking under licence over each of the last three years, taken together with an average 200 retirements or failure to renew the DHL over the same period, this means that approximately 1000-1200 candidates will require to be processed over each of the next five years. With the systems and supports already in place, and refined over a twelve-year period, Deer Alliance HCAP is confident that it can meet this demand in an efficient and competent fashion.

8: The cost of HCAP was set at €150.00 per candidate, from MCQ written examination through to Range Test and issue of HCAP Certificate (now supported by ID card and lapel badge) in 2012 and will continue at that level despite constantly increasing costs. As already stated, HCAP is operated on a strictly not-for-profit basis and any and all surpluses are applied to containment of the cost to the individual candidate, and to improvements in HCAP and its administration. The Secretary/Administrator receives an honorarium, which is subject to income tax and VAT, compliant with Revenue requirements. That honorarium is calculated to cover the Secretary/Administrator’s time and direct expenses. Other expenses include MCQ facilities, venue hire, Range Test costs (including per-candidate payment to the Range, and per diem and travel costs for Deer Alliance Range personnel), and all those direct and indirect costs associated with running HCAP, such as maintenance of website, internet server provider charges, An Post charges, communications costs including mobile phone charges and travel costs. A full statement of Account is provided to stakeholder representatives at each Committee meeting (usually held quarterly) and audited accounts are provided annually. In short, full transparency and accountability is followed at all times, and this will continue to be the policy.

9: Regarding accreditation, HCAP is accredited by those entities from whom accreditation is required, namely National Parks & Wildlife Service and Coillte Teoranta. HCAP is also accredited by An Garda Siochana as evidence of competence for purposes of firearms certificate applications. HCAP is not a national vocational qualification as the cost of complying with requirements of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the over-arching body for accreditation of vocational courses in Ireland, is disproportionate to the number of candidates seeking certification, and would lead to a measurably increased cost of certification for candidates. There is currently no accredited national vocational course available in Ireland for purposes for certification in competence in the field of deer management or deer hunting. Neither is any external course in this arena is accredited.

10: In fairness to Deer Alliance HCAP and NPWS, the stated position calls for certification under HCAP “or equivalent”. There is currently no equivalent course available. It is expected that if any alternative certification programme is put forward, NPWS, as the authority responsible for issuing of DHLs, will determine whether equivalence is met by any intending alternative course leading to certification. By virtue of its structure and achievements over a twelve to sixteen-year period, HCAP is established as the benchmark for equivalence and it is difficult to see how or why an alternative course provider would come forward, other than for purely commercial reasons.

11: Deer Alliance is aware of a negative response to mandatory certification emerging on social media from some quarters. Deer Alliance, and all of its stakeholders as well as stakeholders represented on the Irish Deer Management Forum, regret to note any negative response to developments which are designed to lead to better, competent and more efficient hunting and management if wild deer by committed and fully certified persons. Happily, the number and quality of favourable comment considerably outweighs the negative comment. Mandatory certification has in fact been welcomed by a majority of respondents, who see the development as bringing Ireland into line with international best practice and contributing to best-practice procedures in terms of management of wild deer, including recreational hunting and necessary culling for control purposes. Opponents of mandatory certification mention increased regulation and control as negative factors whereas the purpose is to improve and enhance best-practice procedures based on education and training. Others feel that the cost of certification is an obstacle to new entrants. Given the overall cost of stalking as a recreational resource, the cost of certification is insignificant and will add considerably to the hunter’s knowledge and performance in the field.

12: Deer Alliance is also aware of an online petition in circulation, which is regrettable, as division is always counter-productive. The petition in question appears to be based on a fear of regulation deterring newcomers to the sport, where sport is the objective. There is no evidence to support this proposition, as analysis of DHL numbers over the last number of years will demonstrate. Legitimate hunters will have no difficulty in meeting requirements, regulatory or otherwise. A licence fee is also mentioned. Certification has nothing to do with any licence fee which may or may not be contemplated, but it will serve to educate and support genuine hunters while deterring others less committed to deer hunting, either as a sport or as a necessary tool of management and control under safe, competent and knowledgeable conditions.

13: A need for legislation has also been mentioned. There is no need for legislation to support the introduction of mandatory certification. Section 9 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended) provides that the Minister may attach conditions to any licence granted by him for any of the purposes of the Act or of regulations made under the Act, vary such conditions and revoke any such licence (other than a licence granted by the Minister under section 29 of the Act).

Applications for HCAP are now invited from interested persons.

MANDATORY CERTIFICATION FOR ALL DEER HUNTERS FROM 1st JANUARY 2018

ARE YOU HCAP-CERTIFIED YET?

With effect from 1st January 2018, all first-time applicants for a Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) in the Republic of Ireland will be required to be certified as competent in knowledge of deer, including aspects such as hunting regulations and the law, under the provisions of the Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP) or equivalent, before being issued with a DHL.

This applies whether their application is based on State forestry or on private land.

All hunters already holding a DHL as at 31st December 2017 will have a period of grace extending for five years to 31st December 2022 to become certified but from that date they too will require to be certified as competent.

HCAP was introduced in 2005 as a requirement for hunters on Coillte forest property but will now extend to private land. This follows a recommendation to government from the Irish Deer Management Forum, and some forty years of lobbying for mandatory testing and certification by the different deer organisations in Ireland. The Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme is the only approved certification process in Ireland, covering the legislative and regulatory framework for deer hunting in Ireland.

There are currently approximately 4900 holders of the DHL in Ireland, of whom approximately half are already HCAP-Certified. Over the last three years, there have been approximately 600 new entrants to deer stalking each year, with only 200 retirements each year.

In anticipation of a significant increase in applications in 2018, Deer Alliance will run a series of twelve Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) written assessments in 2018, supported by six Range Tests. The full schedule will shortly be available on this News & Updates section of the Deer Alliance website. All applications will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. All intending applicants are urged to apply in a timely fashion, and existing holders of the DHL in particular are urged not to leave it until the end of the five-year grace period to make application as they are unlikely to be facilitated in time to make the deadline. Application and payment can be made online through the Deer Alliance website. The cost of HCAP remains €150.00, to include written assessment (MCQ) and Range Test.