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‘Recreational hunters will never be able to deal with the deer overpopulation’

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Action: Deer populations in Wicklow have grown

Action: Deer populations in Wicklow have grown

Action: Deer populations in Wicklow have grown

Farmers in Wicklow say they are fighting a losing battle in their efforts to reduce the number of TB reactors in the county due to the ever expanding deer population.

It comes following a well-attended meeting on the issue organised by Wicklow Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) in The Glen of Imaal, one of the worst affected areas.

 ICSA’s Seamus Sherlock has said that “large herds of wild deer are freely roaming, damaging fences, eating valuable grass and other feeds and it’s causing havoc”.

“Added to that is the strong belief amongst local farmers that the deer are causing the spread of TB,” he said.

 “I was given a guided tour of the affected areas by ICSA’s Wicklow national executive member Tom Stephenson and it was a real eye opener to see first-hand how bad the deer problem really is.

“Recreational hunters will never be able to deal with the overpopulation. Farmers in these areas are at breaking point.”

Mr Sherlock added that ICSA will be requesting meetings with Coillte and National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) to relay our concerns and to stress in the strongest terms the need for solutions to be found.

Fencing, controlled burning and deer culling will be some of the options open for discussion, he said.

 “It is time for a more concerted effort by all sides involved. These farmers cannot be hung out to dry over a problem not of their own making.

“ They need support and they need solutions and for those responsible to step up to the plate.”

A limited deer cull is expected to take place in Wicklow in the near future as bovine TB outbreaks remain an ongoing issue in the county.

At a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee the General Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Aidan O’Driscoll said TB incidences of TB in parts of Wicklow stood at 11.9pc, compared to just over 3pc nationally and conceded that there is a problem in the county.

“We are talking to the Department of Arts in relation to deer and we have to have a limited cull in the Callery area working through the two Departments in the near future,” he said.

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