Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 409 - Answered on 22 January 2013

Sean Fleming, TD (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he intends to alter the current open season for wild female deer to begin on 1 October and end on 30 April in place of the current open season which starts on 1 November and ending on 28 February in view of the fact that female deer give birth beginning in May and are heavily pregnant from February onwards carrying a fully formed fetus and during October female deer still have dependant calves/fawns and to kill the mother at this time would result inthe death from starvation over a number of weeks for the orphaned calf/fawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Kerry North-West Limerick, Fine Gael):

The current hunting dates for deer species are prescribed by the Wildlife (Wild Mammals) (Open Seasons) Orders, 2005-2012. These Orders currently allow the hunting of female Sika, Fallow and Red Deer between the first day of November and the last day of February each year. I recently removed the hunting of female Red Deer from County Kerry from these Orders.

A review of the Open Season Orders for deer species is currently being undertaken by my Department. This review includes consideration of the most appropriate dates and time periods for the hunting of all deer species and sexes.

The review process has involved a public consultation element whereby interested parties were asked for their views. My Department received over thirty submissions from a wide range of stakeholders, including hunting, conservation, farming and sporting rights organisations, as well as from the general public. I am aware that there are differing opinions about extending the open season for female deer species. These views will be taken into account in any final decision to amend the Open Seasons Order. In the meantime, there will be no alteration to the current hunting season for female deer species, which ends on 28 February 2013.

My Department is aware of the illegal killing of deer in certain areas of the country and organisations such as the Wild Deer Association of Ireland have provided information to my Department on such incidents. All such reports are followed up insofar as possible within existing staffing levels. I am aware that staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department have carried out an increased number of patrols, including night patrols, in the last few months in Co. Kerry, where there have been reports of increased illegal deer killings. Persons involved in such illegal activity are, of course, subject to prosecution.

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