Licensed deer hunters culled 41,148 deer in the year to February 28, 2019, but there will be less deer culling this year, due to permit delays and a worldwide crash in the demand for venison (due to Covid-19).
Farmers are advised to watch for extra deer grazing their fields this winter, and motorists are warned to exercise caution in areas where deer are prevalent.
Increased damage by deer to forestry, farming and the wider ecosystem is expected.
The Dáil heard last week that 2,000 licences have yet to be issued, of the approximately 5,500 permits issued annually by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to allow for the management of deer during the open deer season which runs from September 1 to February 28.
“While we sympathise with the challenges caused by Covid-19 for NPWS in the issuing of permits, we have engaged with NPWS in good faith since June while representing our members regarding the potential permit issues caused by Covid-19,” a spokesperson for the Irish Deer Commission - a voluntary association that promotes and encourages efforts to improve the management and conservation of wild deer - said.
“However we have been left frustrated and dismayed by NPWS inability to engage and adapt.
“Frustration among deer hunters has been compounded, as applicants adhered to a post Covid-19 deadline of June 30 set by NPWS for the submission of permit renewal applications, and a commitment that permits would be received in advance of the open season on September 1.
“But it now appears some applicants who met the NPWS deadline will not receive their permit for several months, or not at all; this is completely unacceptable in our view and a new approach to the delay is required urgently.” Last week Deputy David Stanton and Deputy Jennifer Murnane O’Connor put a series of parliamentary questions to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD on behalf of the Irish Deer Commission with regard to the ongoing delays in the issuing of permits under section 29 of the Wildlife Acts, Open Seasons Order for Deer 2020/21.
The Minister has since confirmed that some “early work” had taken place with regard to the matter, and over two thousand permits have been issued to date.