Legislation to ban stag hunting has been published by Environment Minister John Gormley, who says he hopes to have it enacted before the summer recess.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill will prohibit deer hunting with packs of dogs and will increase the maximum fines for wildlife-related offences.

The Ward Union Hunt will be the only group to be affected by the ban.

Mr Gormley said the legislation would not have any implications for other ‘country pursuits’ such as fox and hare hunting, hare coursing or deer stalking.

Fines under the Wildlife Acts are being increased from €500 to €1,000 for a first offence on summary conviction, from €1,000 to €2,000 for a second and from €1,500 to €5,000 for a third or subsequent offence.

The maximum fine for conviction on indictment would be doubled from €50,000 to €100,000.