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NEPA okays year-round deer hunting

Published:Friday | August 23, 2019 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

The white-tailed deer
File The white-tailed deer

Game bird hunters have been given the green light to shoot the white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus), an alien invasive species of major concern in Jamaica, any time throughout the year.

The okay has come from National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) CEO Peter Knight, who told The Gleaner: “There is no restriction on them. There is no deer-shooting season. You can shoot January, February, March, April, December, etc. You shoot them (deer) any time, but remember the game reserves and forest reserves, they (hunters) are not to be there.”

His comments come as the 2019 game bird season, which runs from August 17 to September 22, gets under way.

Hunting within game reserves, sanctuaries and forest reserves has been prohibited. There is also a 50-metre no-hunting restriction around the boundaries of game reserves and sanctuaries. A maximum fine of $100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months is applicable for breaches of the Wild Life Protection Act.

Last season, NEPA gave the green light for bird shooters to target the herbivore because of the threats it poses to farming and the natural environment as an invasive species.

An invasive species is defined as any that has been introduced to an environment where it is not native and has since become a threat through rapidly spreading and increasing in numbers, often to the detriment of native species, NEPA notes on its website.

“White-tailed deer have been known to destroy crops and cause damage to woodland areas,” it further advises.

“They have no natural predators and are spreading fast, and this is because the food supply is good all year round,” terrestrial biologist Damion Whyte told The Gleaner last year. “A very conservative estimate of the population is more than 6,000 in the wild.”

The presence of the herbivore has been confirmed in St Andrew and Portland, where three does and three bucks escaped from Somerset Falls, a tourist attraction, during the passage of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.