The focus of deer control efforts should be to address populations of deer surrounding areas experiencing TB outbreaks, the IFA has said.

Animal health chair TJ Maher also stated that the Department of Agriculture’s stakeholder TB Implementation Working Group should have the opportunity to “feed into” the work of the re-established Deer Management Group.

“The control of deer nationally requires a co-ordinated approach, which must include a focus on addressing the deer population surrounding TB outbreaks,” said Maher.

“The TB Implementation Group must be given the opportunity to feed into the terms of reference for the re-established Deer Management Group to ensure it delivers on two key objectives; a comprehensive management programme to reduce the number of deer in areas when associated with TB outbreaks; and a national management programme to reduce the levels of deer to numbers that are sustainable within their natural habitat throughout the country,” he proposed.

Open season

Maher cited the longer deer open season in Northern Ireland as an example of the policy changes that the Deer Management Group could explore.

“The Northern Ireland open season for most species of deer is longer than ours. This is an example of an area that will need to be addressed by the Deer Management Group when the terms of reference are agreed,” commented the animal health chair.

The necessity of appointing a chair to newly re-established deer group was also noted by the IFA.

“It’s important that the terms of reference are agreed as soon as possible and a chairperson with the competencies to deal with this complex issue is put in place to ensure the group gets up and running without delay,” he said.