A MAN accused of illegally shooting a red deer stag, cutting it in half and bringing it to a taxidermist to be mounted, has claimed he mistook the animal for a sika deer.
Father-of-one Richard Cullinane (37) of Lisnacon, Kanturk, pleaded guilty at Killarney District Court on Tuesday to charges of hunting and of killing an exempted wild mammal, namely a red deer stag on November 7, 2011,
National Parks and Wildlife Service Conservation Officer Dr Tim Burkitt recalled how he had received a call informing him that a red deer stag had been shot and its hind quarters left in a field at Loo Bridge, Glenflesk, Co Kerry. Later that day he received a second call stating that the front end of a deer had been dropped off at a local taxidermist in Killarney.
"I went to the field the following day and saw the remains of the stag in the middle of the field," he said. Tissue and muscle samples were removed from the remains found at Loo Bridge and from the taxidermist's specimen and later sent for analysis in a laboratory in County Kildare.
They proved to be a positive match and Mr Burkitt said he subsequently approached the defendant who admitted to cutting the animal in half and to leaving the hind quarters in a field.
At this week's sitting, defence solicitor Linda Kelleher said her client had apologised profusely and had contacted Mr Burkitt by mobile, inviting him for a formal interview at his home. She added that the defendant had also offered to "make arrangements to replace the red stag" but Mr Burkitt had stated that this was "not necessary".
Ms Kelleher said her client was only in his third season of owning a hunting licence and had mistaken the animal for a sika deer. She added that Mr Cullinane had fully co-operated, labelling the incident: "an error of judgement".
State solicitor Ed O'Sullivan said the maximum penalty on each charge was a fine of €500 or three months imprisonment.
Judge James O'Connor adjourned sentencing until September 17 in Killarney. A charge of bringing a firearm capable of shooting a wild animal onto land not owned by the defendant was dropped at a previous sitting.