A three-year plan to manage the deer population in Wicklow has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, along with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaelteacht.
This jointly funded project will run for three years and is designed to enable rapid local level capacity building and co-operation in relation to long-term management of deer populations in Co. Wicklow.
Unsustainable deer populations have the potential to impact adversely on agriculture, conservation and forestry objectives, as well as road safety, according to those involved and issues related to high deer populations frequently arise in Co. Wicklow, and are increasingly of concern to a range of land managers and conservationists in the county.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle said the objective of this project is the management of locally occurring deer populations within three newly established deer management units located in the Wicklow region.
"The project will put sustainable deer management within the county on a more professional basis and promote knowledge transfer in the county, as well as mainstreaming of the project and sharing of knowledge where required outside Co. Wicklow.”
Unsustainably high deer populations have been an issue in County Wicklow for several years impacting on forestry, conservation and agricultural objectives in the county, as well as being a deer welfare issue in their own right, he said.
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has welcomed the signing of a contract with the Wicklow Uplands Council for the provision of Deer Management Services in the Wicklow Region.
“This is indeed a step in the right direction, however it must be viewed as just that, a step. Primarily, it is an important acknowledgement by both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that ‘unsustainable deer populations have the potential to impact adversely on agriculture’, but we must go further.”
He said that the consequences of uncontrolled deer populations in Wicklow have been felt for too long by local farmers.
"Grazing pastures and feed supplies are being mercilessly raided on a daily basis. This is coupled with the above average number of TB reactor cattle in those areas populated by deer and amounts to an intolerable situation for many. Mandatory TB testing on culled deer must be made a priority.”