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
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.
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)
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.