BDS Chairman Rory Putman has reemphasised our calls for a review of the periods of permitted culling under General Authorisation for Out of Season Shooting.
Writing directly to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Mairi Gougeon, our chairman with the full support of the BDS board has again highlighted the supporting factual scientific evidence which we believe demands such a review.
pdf Read the letter (240 KB)
There is considerable concern and growing frustration among thousands of licensed deer hunters and deer management groups due to a delay in the issuing of permits by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Wildlife Licensing Unit.
Approximately 5,500 permits are issued annually by NPWS to allow for the management of deer during the open deer season which runs from September 1st to February 28th.
In the absence of a natural predator, it falls on man to maintain deer numbers at sustainable levels and to reduce any negative effect they may have on farming, forestry, and the wider ecosystem. While unverified, data released by NPWS show that 41,148 deer were culled by 5,515 licensed deer hunters in the 12-month period up to February 28th, 2019, highlighting the important role carried out by licensed deer hunters.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Irish Deer Commission said:
“While we sympathise with the challenges caused by Covid-19 for NPWS in the issuing of permits, we have engaged with NPWS in good faith since June while representing our members regarding the potential permit issues caused by Covid-19, however, we have been left frustrated and dismayed by NPWS inability to engage and adapt.”
Photograph – Co Kerry Red stag credit Peter O’Toole
We continue to be contacted regularly by members and non-members expressing dismay at FLS’s recent decision to cull red deer hinds from the beginning of September, being concerned about welfare consequences for orphaned juveniles - if these are not shot with the mother.
We must reiterate that, under the provisions of their General Authorisation, FLS are acting completely legally. BDS, however, has in the past, and currently is, exploring every opportunity to seek a review of the earliest cull date to be permitted under such authorisations.
We argue that while perhaps the majority of young are nutritionally independent of the dam after 12 weeks, most remain socially dependent on the mother for a considerably longer period, particularly among herding species such as red deer, and thus may suffer significantly from loss of the dam.
There is now considerable published research on both nutritional and social independence of juveniles and we are, as ever, urging the responsible authorities to review the latest research and reconsider the September start to such Authorisations.
The Regulation of deer control when crops are affected in Scotland since 2012.
BDS is of the opinion that there may be a need for a greater understanding of the issues of shooting at female deer in September and that we are concerned about the news that Forest & Land Scotland have advised their staff and contractors that, if acting according to Best Practice and their own judgement, they may make full use of the regulations introduced in 2012 which allow them to shoot female deer and their dependents under the General Authorisations enacted in the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, BDS appreciates that this concern is limited to the very few instances when events, unfortunately, differ from plans and that there are risks if adult females are shot in September.
We hope that those contemplating taking a shot consider carefully the Best Practice covering this situation, taking into consideration the apparent absence of obvious dependents, the visibility of the entire deer group, the correct pairing of dam and calf, and the wisdom of shooting at female deer in September.
We acknowledge that the regulations permit the shooting of female deer and their dependents from 1 September but hope that there will only be a minority interested in this practice; should they be found not adhering to Best Practice, or even potentially abusing welfare aspects, they should be reported for such activity.
Due to the imposition of further national Covid -19 restrictions from Monday the 14th of September and localised spikes, we would like to clarify the British Deer Society’s (BDS) position regarding training courses.
As BDS training courses are educational they are exempt from the new restrictions regarding gatherings of no more than six people. Our DSC1 , Deer Management, HAD courses etc. will therefore continue to run providing there are no local spikes or localised complications that could compromise the safety and wellbeing of course attendees and tutors. If there are complications we will inform those attending the course as soon as possible.
Our course managers will ensure that sanitising facilities are available. However, attendees should also make sure to bring their own personal protective equipment, such as face masks and nitrile gloves.
An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market.
The group including BDS TD Nick Rout will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and reduced demand due to COVID-19.
The Wild Venison Working Group is facilitated and chaired by The Forestry Commission and has representation from a broad range of stakeholders from the woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors including The British Deer Society. The group is working in collaboration with organisations in Scotland to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
Wednesday 19th August at 19.30 – 20.45 Streaming Live on The British Deer Society YouTube Channel.
Webinar Live Stream = https://youtu.be/bdlr-topL3k
Prior to lockdown, the price of venison was already under pressure, allegedly due to large scale culls in Europe. With lockdown came a closure of restaurants and a further drop in demand for venison - some prices reaching a low of £1 a kilo or less!
This price decline alongside the concern linked to rising deer numbers has led to many challenges for the stalker – Is it worth following the management plan? What do I do with the venison? How are game dealers to survive?
The first event in the Society’s Free webinar series will give the opportunity for representatives across the industry to come together to discuss the issues and to answer questions as we all work to find the best ways forward through these challenging times.
Many people are used to feeding birds and leaving food for other wildlife in their gardens and may naturally assume they can do this for wild deer too. BDS is often asked about this.
However, there is really no need, as deer can usually find all that they need naturally and it can actually take their stomachs some time to adapt to any new food items to which they are not used. Regular feeding also causes the deer to become unnaturally dependent on humans for food which can actually lead to deer becoming a nuisance in some cases and even developing aggressive behaviour.