Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Questions 1380, 1381 and 1382 - Answered on 26th January, 2005
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the regional manager and deputy regional manager of the north eastern region, of the National Parks and Wildlife Service reported that the Ward Union Hunt Club should not be granted a licence to hunt its captive farmed deer in the 2004/5 season; the reason their professional advice was ignored; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason a licence was granted to the Ward Union Hunt Club to hunt its captive farmed deer in contravention of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, wherein wild animals are clearly defined.
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the opinion of the Attorney General was sought before granting a licence to the Ward Union Hunt Club for the 2004/5 season in view of the definition of wild animals contained in the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
For written answer. Ref No: 1953/05, 1954/05 and 1955/05
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr Dick Roche): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1380, 1381 and 1382 together.
Section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 provides that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may grant to the master or other person in charge of a pack of stag hounds, a licence authorising the hunting of deer by that pack, during such period or periods as is or are specified in the licence. Legal advice was obtained through the Attorney General's office in 1999 confirming the longstanding interpretation of section 26, to the effect that it provides for the licensing of carted deer hunting irrespective of the status of the deer, wild or captive.
Two regional wildlife officials of my Department raised legal issues in prospect of the 2004/2005 season relating to possible implications of a definition of "wild animal" in the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, i.e. that if the deer hunted by the Ward Union Hunt were not covered by that definition, the Ward Union Hunt might not in consequence require a licence under the Wildlife Acts.
This issue was carefully considered in my Department and the conclusion was that since the term "wild animal" was nowhere used in section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976, the operation of that provision could not be considered to be affected by the issue raised. On this basis, it was determined that the Ward Union Hunt required to be licensed and a licence was granted for the 2004/2005 season.