Irish Deer Management Strategy Group (IDMSG) Chair, Teddy Cashman, has announced plans to establish 10 deer management units in “hot spots” across Ireland in the next year. Cashman, who is also a dairy farmer from Cork, made this announcement at a meeting chaired by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Forestry Committee Chair, Jason Fleming, in Co. Kerry. The IDMSG published a report in December outlining 15 actions to address the deer issue, with eight of them recommended for immediate implementation.
Cashman stated that a programme manager will be appointed in the coming months to oversee the establishment of the units. He emphasized the need for a proper structure to address the responsibility of deer management, which has been neglected in recent years. Coordinators will be assigned to bring the new units together and facilitate collaboration among local stakeholders. Cashman expressed the target of setting up 10 deer management units within the next 12 months, with potential locations including Kerry, Wicklow, and other parts of the country.
A survey conducted by the IDMSG revealed that 87% of the 1,500 respondents called for a national deer cull. The government is currently working on changes to the open season for hunting deer. Cashman indicated that there is a “good possibility” of extending the hunting seasons for male and female deer this year. Additionally, the European Union is considering classifying Sika deer as an invasive species, which would allow for shooting them at any time of the year.
The IDMSG is also working towards streamlining the process for granting Section 42 licenses by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which permit hunting deer out of season. The NPWS has allocated additional staff to address this issue in the coming year. Negotiations are underway with Coillte and the NPWS to increase deer culling on State lands. Cashman mentioned the possibility of employing contract hunters in areas with high deer populations.
One of the major concerns raised at the meeting was the establishment of a sustainable wild venison market. Cashman highlighted the need for government subsidies initially to support this market. The meeting discussed the necessity of enhancing infrastructure, such as storage larders for carcasses, and removing the current limit on hunters marketing deer directly to the hospitality sector.
Cashman confirmed that the government has committed funding for the initial stage of the project. However, the IDMSG will need to develop a business plan to secure additional funds for future stages. He emphasized that the goal is not to exterminate or remove deer from the ecosystem but to establish a sustainable equilibrium. Cashman acknowledged the increasing visible impacts of deer in recent years and emphasized the importance of addressing the most severe impacts first.
Overall, the establishment of deer management units and the implementation of various measures aim to address the growing deer population and mitigate the negative effects they have on the environment. The IDMSG’s efforts, along with government support, will play a crucial role in achieving a balance between deer populations and their impact on the country.