'Deer coming into farmyards at night and eating silage alongside cattle' - Group call for hunting extension

Myles Buchanan

Attendees at a public meeting organised by the Manor Kilbride Deer Management Project (MKDMP) heard that there is an over-reliance on recreational hunting as the principle means for controlling the over-population of wild deer in Wicklow.

Experts stated that recreational hunting is inadequate as a deer conservation measure and as a means to control the serious economic damage caused by wild deer especially to agriculture and woodlands, according to the Bray People.

It reports that the meeting featured talks on deer damage and the adverse impact they have on agriculture and forestry; disease risk and spread; road traffic collisions; household garden and shrub damage; and sustainable management of the wild deer population.

During the meeting, Sean Eustace, chairman of MKDMP, presented a progress report on deer management planning.

Despite reasonably active deer hunting in the Kilbride area, large numbers of deer are regularly sighted and recorded, ranging from three to four but also including large herds from 30 to 60 deer. There is also evidence that significant numbers are coming into farmyards at night and eating silage alongside cattle.

MKDMP, which has hunting and farming interests among its stakeholders, agrees that even an extension of one month to the deer hunting season in Wicklow (from the end of February to the end of March) could have a very positive impact. This had been approved by Minister Jimmy Deenihan some years ago but has not been enacted.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Eustace said: 'A strategic principle outlined in 'Deer Management in Ireland - A Framework for Action' states that lead responsibility for deer management lies with landowners and land managers. However, regulatory and administrative systems around licensing and hunting seasons are seen by most farmers as bureaucratic and limiting to what needs to be done.

'There is a strong case to adopt the Scottish model for out of season shooting of deer whereby there is a general authorisation for occupiers suffering damage to improved agricultural land or enclosed woodlands to control deer in the closed season.'

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Other speakers at last week's meeting included Ian Alcock from the Blessington Game and Wildfowl Conservation Association who gave a presentation on the origin and growth of Sika deer numbers in Wicklow; Jim Walsh, veterinarian and deer stalker, who discussed the sale of venison, trade and regulation; and District Conservation Officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service Enda Mullen, who talked about deer hunting regulations and licensing.

Bray People

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