The Irish Deer Commission (IDC) has called on Government to develop a wild venison market.

The group insisted that there is “significant demand and markets” for wild venison in Europe and that this should be explored by Government as an additional outlet for the product.

Such a move, it says, will aid the management of Ireland’s growing deer population.

In a submission to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, the IDC suggested that Irish venison is a high-value meat and that its promotion would complement the existing meat industry.

“A vibrant wild venison market is a prerequisite to sustainable deer management.

“While venison is a superfood in terms of health benefits, sustainable and organic, the demand for venison in Ireland is low,” stated the commission in a document shared with the Minister this week.

Venison consumption

A survey of all IDC members found that 77% of its members, including deer hunters, consume all the venison they cull.

However, the deer commission described how a significant number of deer culled in Ireland are exported in fur to the UK by approved game handling establishments (AGEs), as there is currently only a small Irish market for processed venison.

The deer group said the AGE capacity is limited and regular price decreases or temporary closures are commonplace. This affects the management of deer populations, the IDC contended.

“Some AGEs will not accept Sika females, calves or yearlings due to carcase weight, which restricts deer culling,” it said.

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