Hunters should be brought in to cull up 50,000 deer in Wicklow - report
Professional hunters should be brought in to cull between 17,000 and 50,000 deer in Wicklow, a major research project has found.
The study claimed that deer numbers in the area were too high for recreational hunters to significantly reduce the population.
The interim report, which was drawn up for the Manor Kilbride Deer Management Project following two years of a four-year study, proposed that professional hunters be employed to reduce the population to a sustainable level, at which point recreational hunters could then control numbers.
Deer have been widely blamed by farmers in Wicklow for spreading TB, and also for damaging forestry plantations and grazing crops and grassland.
The incidence of TB in west Wicklow is almost four times the national average, at 11.63pc of tested herds.
The report noted that a Department of Agriculture pilot sampling of 103 deer carcasses in the Calary area of east Wicklow found that 16pc were infected with TB.
No accurate numbers are available for the deer population on Wicklow, with estimates varying from 50,000 to 150,000 head.