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Open season for deer hunting extended

The open season for deer hunting in Ireland has been extended by three months for male deer and by one month for female and antlerless young males.

Extending the season was one of the key recommendations of the Deer Management Strategy Group that reported last December.

The group was set up in response to problems arising with the expanding deer population and the impact that was having on road safety, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity.

Prior to the changes the hunting season for most deer was due to close on the last day of February.

In the case of female and immature male deer, the season has now been extended until the last day of March. In the case of mature males the season has been extended to the last day of April.

The season will reopen a month earlier this year too.

Male deer can be shot by licensed hunters from 1 August, which is a month earlier than before. The reopening date for female and antlerless deer remains unchanged on 1 November.

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan said: “Deer are an integral part of the Irish landscape, but overgrazing by deer has become a serious pressure for native woodlands and for peatland habitats across Ireland.

“Extending the open season will provide land owners with greater flexibility for deer management and should, with time, help us to bring deer back to sustainable levels locally and nationally.”

Meanwhile Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said it has become clear that deer densities in areas across the country are above a sustainable level for land management activities and are impacting on farming, forestry, nature conservation and biodiversity.

“Together with Minister Noonan, I published the Irish Deer Management Strategy Group’s report on developing a sustainable deer management strategy for Ireland last December.

“The development of the report, under the Chairmanship of Mr Teddy Cashman, involved a thorough process including public consultation and stakeholder meetings and led to 15 actions being put forward.

“Extending the deer hunting season is one of the priority actions identified to combat this increasing problem. There is no doubt that the wild deer population is having a significant impact on farmers.

“Land set aside for grazing livestock is being plundered and our forestry is being impacted by over grazing which prevents regeneration.”

There are around 6,000 licensed deer stalkers in Ireland.

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