An extension to the deer open seasons order has been announced by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue as part of Government’s bid to tackle rising deer populations.

The change is the first made on the back of 15 recommendations put forward in a key deer management strategy group’s report released in December.

Female and antlerless deer can now be hunted until 31 March, while males can be hunted until 30 April.

The male deer hunting season will also now begin on 1 August 2024.

Minister of State Malcolm Noonan said that extension of the open season plays a role in taking deer populations back to manageable levels better suited to the landscape.

“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,” he commented.

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

Grazing lands ‘plundered’

Minister McConalogue stated that the move is in recognition of deer densities having gone above a sustainable level for farming, forestry and biodiversity.

“Extending the deer hunting season is one of the priority actions identified to combat this increasing problem,” the Minister said.

“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.”

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is also looking to streamline the processing of deer hunting licences by moving the process online, the agency’s director general Niall Ó Donnchú added.

“This will become a one-stop-shop for all licences in due course. Applications for deer hunting licences for the 2024/2025 seasons will be managed through the new portal,” the NPWS head stated.

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