Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 528 - Answered on 29 November 2005
Ciarán Cuffe: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for his licensing of the Ward Union deer hunt in view of an apparent recommendation by a senior National Parks and Wildlife Service official that the hunt should not be licensed. (Ref No: 36885/05)
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr Dick Roche): 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 long-standing 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.
A regional wildlife official of my Department again raised questions relating to possible implications of a definition of “wild animal” in the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, that is, 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 2005-06 season.