independent

Sunday 23 September 2018

Deer management project is launched

The new project will tackle the unsustainable deer population in Wicklow
The new project will tackle the unsustainable deer population in Wicklow

Deborah Coleman

The new County Wicklow Deer Management Project, which is being implemented by Wicklow Uplands Council and County Wicklow Deer Management Project was launched in recent days.

The launch comes following the awarding of a three year contract for the provision of deer management services in Co Wicklow.

The contract aims to address the unsustainable deer population in the county and follows extensive years of study and consultation with stakeholders regarding the challenges it creates including extensive damage to forestry and agricultural lands, native woodlands and private gardens, the spread of diseases to livestock, negative impact to sensitive biodiversity such as upland peat-land habitats, road traffic collisions and deer welfare issues.

Brian Dunne, Co-ordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council said that the project is a 'very welcome opportunity to deliver long term sustainable deer management practices to the areas affected by the sizeable population.'

The project will see the establishment of three Deer Management Units (DMU) throughout the county with each of the units overseeing the management of the deer population in their area using knowledge on the terrain and deer habits unique to their locality.

The formation of deer management plans for each of these units is built around working collaboratively with landowners, hunters and key stakeholders such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte.

According to Pat Dunne of Wicklow Deer Management Partnership 'Deer management can be carried out at a local level but it is much more effective when strategically coordinated at a regional level. The project will assess and reduce the adverse impacts of deer in each of these units with appropriate management processes.'

The gathering of information on county Wicklow's deer population is a key objective of the programme, beginning with the establishment of baseline data on damage levels caused by the large population. Data collected will be closely monitored and recorded over the three year period and will feature in interim and final reports.

The complex project includes provisions for public awareness, education, knowledge transfer and training to promote best practices and will contribute to future local and national action plans.

Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, who attended the launch said that similar projects have been rolled out across Europe.

'This project will put sustainable deer management within the county on a more professional basis and promote knowledge transfer throughout the county. Projects such as this are normal in other parts of Europe, where deer, forestry and habitats all coexist in harmony. The findings of the project in Wicklow, will serve as a sustainable model to consider for other parts of the country where similar challenges are beginning to form'.

Wicklow Uplands Council is currently seeking applications for the role of a part time project co-ordinator who will be responsible for the implementation of the project over its three year term. For information see www.wicklowuplands.ie

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