Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

McEntee calls for deer control to be made the priority

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Deer control must be put top of the forestry agenda, Minister of State Shane McEntee has announced.

A comprehensive deer management strategy similar to Scotland is required in Ireland, he told last week's Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

Mr McEntee said deer were a major problem in hardwood forests of Co Wicklow and elsewhere.

"I was with a farmer in Wicklow and one morning he went out to his field of silage and there were 200 deer sitting on it," he added.

"I will be seen as a cruel Minister of State if I talk about this, but the deer problem has to be addressed," he told the committee.

"I am not talking about the slaughtering of deer, but a proper management system like they have in Scotland."

In Scotland, landowners have a responsibility for the welfare of deer and their natural habitat. This involves management of deer numbers, mainly by regular culling, to ensure that there is sufficient grazing for the herd and other animals, without causing damage.

More than 70 Scottish Deer Management Groups mostly cover the Highlands, but these are now becoming established in other areas where there are large commercial forests.

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According to the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, deer damage to commercial forestry and native plantations is inflicted in several ways.

Fraying damage is caused when male deer rub their antlers and facial scent glands against tree stems and foliage, mainly from August to November, with a lesser outbreak in spring.

Browsing damage peaks between January and May when food is scarce and buds and shoots are most tender, but it can occur at all times of the year.

Bark-stripping occurs when deer shave off tree bark with their lower teeth for food. This is usually most severe in the January-March period, but with Sika deer it can often occur in the autumn.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming

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