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Independent.ie

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Farmers say uncontrolled wild deer numbers continue to wreak havoc on Wicklow farms

There is a proposal to introduce a pilot deer fencing project and to undertake a more comprehensive deer study in the county as a whole. Picture: Fergal Phillips.
There is a proposal to introduce a pilot deer fencing project and to undertake a more comprehensive deer study in the county as a whole. Picture: Fergal Phillips.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers in Wicklow have hit out at the extent of the deer population in the county which they say is out of control and releated to the high level of bovine TB.

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has called for increased TB testing on culled deer in Wicklow to ascertain the true extent of the problem.

Mr Sherlock made his comments following an ICSA meeting with officials from Coillte and the NPWS which took place in Wicklow.

"Our Wicklow members are the ones who have to cope with the ramifications of the huge numbers of deer encroaching onto their farms.

"As well as having the deer decimate their grazing pastures and feed supplies, the more serious issue remains the high levels of TB reactor cattle in those areas populated by deer.

"Farmers are at their wits end as nobody is willing to take responsibility for the problem. At the very least we need a process whereby basic post-mortem testing is carried out so levels of TB in the deer population can be tracked and monitored,” Sherlock said.

Wild deer roaming farmland in Co Wicklow
Wild deer roaming farmland in Co Wicklow

Wicklow farmer Tom Stephenson added, “It would appear the priority is to boost tourism in the area at the expense of family farms. ICSA is all in favour of tourism and rural regeneration but not at any expense. The livelihoods of local farmers must be protected.”

“Farmers in this area have been completely abandoned. There is what can only be described as a plague upon us and we have no way of ridding ourselves of this scourge. We can restock time and time again after a lock-up but the same thing just happens again. It’s a heart-breaking way of operating which just can’t continue.”

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The Department of Agriculture has committed to undertake a three year project to quantify the damage caused to farmland by wild deer and to ascertain an appropriate annual cull level.

According to Mr Stephenson however, this does not go far enough.

“There is no funding provided for professional shooters. We cannot possibly rely on leisure shooters to have a meaningful impact.

"The situation has gone beyond the tipping point. I am calling on the Department of Agriculture to introduce a proper, fully incentivised, culling programme coupled with systematic TB testing on carcasses as a matter of urgency.”


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