A 37-YEAR-OLD man who admitted to killing and cutting in half a protected Red Deer stag in east Kerry almost two years ago has agreed to pay a total of €3,200 to atone for the loss.
Richard Cullinane (37), Lisnacon, Kanturk, appeared before Killarney District Court on Tuesday on charges of hunting and of killing an exempted wild mammal, namely a Red Stag Deer, at Loo Bridge, Glenflesk.
The defendant had pleaded guilty at a previous sitting where details of how he had brought the front half of the animal to a taxidermist were heard. Court proceedings arose after tissue and muscle samples were removed from the hind quarters found at Loo Bridge and from the taxidermist's specimen and they proved a match.
The defendant had offered to have the protected animal replaced but at this week's sitting, NPWS Conservation Officer Dr Tim Burkitt said replacing the stag with deer from another herd was not viable as they would not have the same DNA. He added that Red Stags were protected as their numbers are "not that high".
State solicitor Ed O'Sullivan said the defendant admitted the offences straight away when approached, adding that the maximum penalty on each charge was a fine of €500 or three months imprisonment.
Defence solicitor Padraig O'Connell said the defendant was a family man who was co-operative and had maintained a line of contact with the NPWS, offering also "in good faith" to have the stag replaced.
"He is extremely sorry and has never come to the notice of any authorities, it was an error of judgement," Mr O'Connell stated, adding: "He will never come to the notice of gardaí or any authorities again".
Judge James O'Connor accepted a sum of €750 to be paid to the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht for application in Killarney National Park. A figure of €2,500 was also accepted by the court, a figure Judge O'Connor said was to "atone for the loss created".
Both payments are to be made by November 19 when Mr Cullinane is to be convicted on both counts and fined. "If there is any non-compliance then there will be difficulties," the judge added.
Mr Cullinane is in his third season of owning a hunting licence and had claimed to have mistaken the animal for a Sika Deer. A third charge of bringing a firearm capable of shooting a wild animal onto land not owned by the defendant had previously been dropped.