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,

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.


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.