Ministers Noonan and McConalogue announce changes to Deer Open Season to manage Deer Populations

Date Released: Thursday, February 29, 2024

Minister for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD and Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD have today (February 29th) announced the revision of the Deer Open Seasons Order. The announcement signals implementation of a key recommendation from the Report of the Irish Deer Management Strategy Group.

Changes to the Deer Open Seasons Order come into effect immediately, and mean an extension to the deer hunting season in the Republic of Ireland. Changes will allow for the continuation of the hunting of female and antlerless deer until 31 March 2024 and males until 30 April 2024. In addition, the 2024/2025 male deer hunting season will now begin at the earlier date of 1 August 2024.

The Deer Management Strategy Group was established by Minister McConalogue with support from Minister Noonan. The report makes a number of recommendations regarding deer management in Ireland, and the implementation of this first recommendation by the National Parks and Wildlife Service demonstrates that all stakeholders are committed to a renewed vision and strategy for the management of wild deer in Ireland.

On signing the new Statutory Instrument, Minister 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.”

Minister McConalogue added:

“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. I very much welcome this step in implementing the report of the Deer Management Strategy Group.”

Niall Ó Donnchú, Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service added:

“We are also making improvements to how we manage applications for deer hunting licences, with a new online portal in development. 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. This will provide a fast, efficient and user friendly process.“