WEATHER WARNING FOR MCQ, SATURDAY 3rd MARCH 2018

Adverse weather conditions in the Leinster area and beyond may force a postponement of the HCAP MCQ scheduled to take place on Saturday next, 3rd March 2018.

A decision on postponement will not be taken until Thursday evening/Friday morning (1st/2nd March) and an announcement made here on this page as soon as the situation is clearer.

We are reluctant to postpone if it can be avoided as there are knock-on implications for later dates, including Range Test date of 24th March, however postponement may be necessary given prevailing conditions at the time of posting this notice.

TENDER, “PROVISION OF DEER MANAGEMENT SERVICES IN CO. WICKLOW” – UPDATE

Following numerous queries from the stalking community since publication of information regarding the tender invited by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (see previous posting on this subject), a number of questions were put to the Department. Responses have now been received and these are shown below, as received.

Q1: Is certification of competency, e.g. HCAP or equivalent, a requirement?

A1: This is not a requirement but will be taken into consideration when awarding marks under award Criteria number 1.

Q2: Please identify in fuller detail the geographic area proposed to be covered, broken down by three proposed geographic zones (Deer Management Units or DMUs)

A2: The DMU’s are not predefined. The establishment of the DMU’s including their location is a deliverable of the project and will be a product of collaboration between landowners, hunters and key stakeholders.

Q3: Please advise whether Coillte Teoranta forest property is included in any proposed DMU.

A3: Coillte as Irelands largest landowner are an important stakeholder when it comes to establishing the DMU’s. It is expected that the successful tenderer will engage with Coillte during the course of the project.

Q4: If Coillte forest property is involved, will the ordinary terms of the standard Coillte licence regarding days, times and other conditions of access apply?

A4: These details will need to be discussed with Coillte as part of the process of establishing the DMU’s.

Q5: Please identify whether State land e.g. Wicklow Mountains National Park is to be included in any DMU.

A5: All relevant lands should be included in the DMU’s where possible. Collaboration with relevant owners regarding access and other arrangements should feature as part of the DMU’s establishment process. It may be the case that certain lands cannot be included in a DMU to be established. Where this is the case the Department should be notified for information in advance of finalising the DMU’s.

Q6: To what extent is it anticipated whether privately owned farmland is to be included in any DMU?

A6: See reply to number 5 above.

Q7: Will the contractor be expected to indemnify owners of private land if private farmland is to be included in any DMU?

     A7: The successful tenderer will be required to demonstrate that it holds acceptable insurances with sufficient limits of indemnity which are appropriate to the services provided. The successful tenderer(s) will be required to provide evidence of availability of insurance cover and justification of the levels prior to the award of the contract.

The National Treasury Management Agency’s “General Indemnity Scheme (GIS) – SIG 02: Determining Insurance Requirements for Goods & Services RFTs & Contracts” (April 2016) which can be found at http://ezone.agriculture.gov.ie/intranet/media/intranet/centralprocurementunit/tenderingcontracts/insurance/SIG0201InsuranceReq280416.pdf

http://ezone.agriculture.gov.ie/intranet/media/intranet/centralprocurementunit/tenderingcontracts/insurance/SIG0201InsuranceReq280416.pdf states the following:

“Employers liability – covers the legal liability of an employer for bodily injury or disease sustained by an employee and which arises out of and in the course of the employment. Employers liability insurance is required where the third party’s obligations under the contract have the potential to cause personal injury or property damage to its employees. The insurance norm limit for employers liability cover is typically be €12.7m for any one claim or series of claims arising out of a single occurrence. Employers liability cover is not required if the third party is self-employed.

Public liability – protects an insured in respect of its legal liability to third parties for bodily injury and for any loss or damage to property which happened in connection with the insured business. Public liability insurance is required where the third party’s obligations under the contract have the potential to cause personal injury or property damage to members of the public (including DSA employees who are considered third parties in respect of the insured contract). The insurance norm limit for public liability cover would typically be €6.5m for any one claim or series of claims arising out of a single occurrence although lower limits are acceptable where risk assessed.

Professional indemnity – protects professionals against claims, alleging that injury or financial loss, resulted from their professional actions, services or advice e.g. architect, engineer, solicitor. Professional indemnity insurance is particularly relevant where a DSA is relying upon the professional expertise of a third party. The level of indemnity required should be based on the risks associated with the services. Limits can range from €500,000 for low risk contracts to €10m or more for large scale high risk projects. DSAs should conduct a risk assessment to identify the level of risk associated with a potential failure, delay or error in the provision of the services and this will identify the level of professional indemnity cover required.

Provided the annual professional indemnity insurance policy is renewed each year, ‘run-off’ cover is not necessary. However, if a consultant ceases to practice, or no longer continues professional indemnity cover, then the consultant should be required to purchase a ‘run-off’ policy that will provide a retroactive cover from the date at which the annual professional indemnity insurance policy expires”.

Appendix C of the same document indicates that Professional Indemnity for a professional service such as research can be set at a minimum of €1m or the value of the contract where the contract value is greater than €1m.

Q8: Please advise whether applications for Section 42 licences are to be supported if any Coillte forest property or any WMNP land is included in any proposed DMU.

A8: The NPWS of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht considers applications for Section 42 permits on a case by case basis and any such applications for such permits on Coillte lands would require the approval of the company.

Q9: Please advise whether night shooting, in or out of season, is to be supported by the licensing authority concerned.

A9: The NPWS of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht would consider night shooting applications on a case by case basis.

Q10: Will the successful contractor be entitled to engage sub-contractors to assist in implementation of any deer management plan including cull operations?

A10: Yes, sub contracting is allowed once they are specified in the tender reply (See award criteria)

Q11: Will the contractor be entitled to retain any and all revenues received from sale of wild shot venison resulting from cull operations on the DMUs concerned?

A11: The Department does not assume any rights to the venison. However, details regarding revenues generated from the sale of venison should feature during collaboration with Stakeholders during the DMU establishment phase.

Q12: Will membership of the NARGC Compensation Fund suffice to meet requirements under the heading, Public Liability Insurance, whether held by the contractor or any sub-contractor?

A12: See reply to Question 7 above.

Q13: Will the provision of services and payments arising therefrom be subject to Value Added Tax?

A13: If the contractor is registered for VAT then VAT will apply and should be included in the tender price.

Q14: Will contract payments be subject to Withholding Tax?

A14: Withholding Tax does not apply.

 

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-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.