AN OFFER by a man who unlawfully shot a red deer stag to replace the animal has been deemed "unfeasible" because a replacement's DNA would not match the rest of the herd.
Richard Cullinane (37) of Lisnacon, Kanturk, Co Cork was given until November to donate €2,500 to the court poor box and to pay €750 in compensation to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the loss of the deer, which is protected under Irish and EU law.
The married father of one pleaded guilty to hunting a wild animal without a licence and shooting a protected species at Loo Bridge, Glenflesk, Co Kerry on November 7, 2011 at a previous court sitting earlier this month.
The maximum penalty for the offence is a €650 (£500) fine and/or three months in prison.
His solicitor Padraig O'Connell said that although his offer to replace the animal wasn't feasible, it had shown good faith on his part.
Conservation officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Dr Tim Burkitt told the court that replacing the deer was impossible as a stag from any other part of the country would not have the same DNA as a deer from Kerry.
Dr Burkitt said that although there was currently a "reasonable number" of native red deer in Killarney National Park, part of the reason they were fully protected under the Wildlife Act was because their numbers in general were not high.
Dr Burkitt had received a call in November 2011 reporting the hind legs of a deer had been dumped in a field near Loo Bridge in Glenflesk.
Further investigations revealed the head of a deer had been left in with a local taxidermist to be mounted.
DNA testing carried out on both sets of remains proved they were from the same animal.
Dr Burkitt said Mr Cullinane immediately admitted the offences when approached and apologised for them.
Mr O'Connell said his client was a family man of good character who had never been in trouble with the law before and had no previous convictions.
"I don't expect we'll see him inside a court again," the solicitor added.
Judge James O'Connor adjourned sentencing until November 19 by which time Mr Cullinane has to have paid the amount due in full.
Judge O'Connor also stipulated the €750 payment to the Department should be applied to Killarney National Park, as it has incurred the loss.