Further to our previous posting on this subject, the statement set out below was issued on 1 June 2010 by Minister of State Michael Finneran in relation to an amendment to the Bill:

“The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was published on 20 April 2010 to give effect to the commitment in the renewed Programme for Government to prohibit the hunting of deer with packs of dogs. The Government decided that this particular hunting practice should cease for animal welfare and public safety reasons. This short Bill also increases the maximum fines for wildlife related offences which were last increased in 2000. This legislation will have no implications for other country pursuits such as fox-hunting, hare-hunting, hare coursing or deer stalking.

The Minister proposes to present the Bill to the Dáil shortly with the intention that it will be enacted before the summer recess.

An issue was raised recently by the Wild Deer Association of Ireland and the Irish Deer Society relating to the practice of deer stalking. They were very concerned that the prohibition on hunting deer with 2 dogs or more would impact on deer stalking in woodlands, where it is now generally regarded as good practice to have a dog for the purpose of retrieving fallen game which can be concealed in undergrowth (it is not uncommon for a deer, even if cleanly shot, to make a last dash for cover). In the event that several hunters were stalking on a property and each had a dog, or if they were bringing two dogs for training or other reasons, they would in effect be breaking the law. Licences for these activities are issued under Section 29 of the Wildlife Acts.

It was never the intention that the legislation would place any restriction on lawful deer stalking. Accordingly, the Minister is in consultation with Parliamentary Counsel on an amendment to the Bill to address the fears expressed by these organisations representing deer hunters that the provisions of the Bill will inadvertently affect the legitimate practice of deer stalking. This amendment relates to Section 3 of the Bill”.

(Posted 2 June 2010)

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