The function of the Irish Deer Management Forum is to examine issues affecting sustainable management of wild deer, having regard for human economic interest as well as the best interests of deer, and arising from such examination, to formulate recommendations to the relevant government departments charged with responsibility for wildlife, agriculture and forestry. While the Forum has no direct or executive responsibility for implementation of policy, it has a significant input into formulation of policy, representing as it does a range of key stakeholder interests, including wildlife conservation, forestry and agriculture. Members are nominated by the different stakeholder groups and their appointment is subject to Ministerial approval. Members’ expertise is relied upon to lead to carefully considered recommendations involving a careful balance of stakeholder interests.
Sustainable management of deer involves some degree of control of numbers where necessary, both from the viewpoint of deer welfare and for the avoidance of conflict with human economic interests. Where control of numbers is necessary, for example to prevent excessive damage to forestry or to agricultural crops, or to prevent the spread of disease such as Bovine Tuberculosis from deer to cattle, or from cattle to deer, Forum policy is that culling be carried out according to Best Practice Guidelines adopted internationally, and carried out only by licensed hunters who are themselves certified as competent at national level.
To facilitate its work and to ensure application of specialist knowledge and experience in the different areas under examination, the Forum works through different Working Groups, such as the Deer Data Group, the bTB Working Group, the Deer Conflict Areas Working Group and the Communications, Training & Best Practice Working Group. Each Working Group operates to its own schedule, reporting back to the Forum at the Forum’s regular quarterly meetings. Proposals emanating from the Working Groups are then considered by the full Forum, reviewed and where necessary or appropriate sent back to the Working Group for refinement or amendment before adoption by the Forum.
By this means a high degree of consensus is achieved on how best to achieve the Forum’s objectives and to fulfil its mandate. Recommendations emerging from the Forum’s deliberations are carefully considered before adoption and submission to the relevant Minister or branch of government.
The Forum welcomes communication from stakeholder interests on matters covered by the Forum’s mandate, which are set out in the document, “Deer Management in Ireland – Framework for Development”.