Farm Ireland

Monday 21 January 2019

Action urged as deer leave mountains to seek out food

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Farmers are calling for action as they are being invaded by hungry deer coming down off the mountains due to the long hard winter.

Tom Stephenson, who farms in Donard, Co Wicklow, said the problems with deer have been exacerbated this year due to the poor grass growth.

The suckler and sheep farmer said many of the deer coming down onto his land now look thin as there is still a lot of snow on the peaks.

"I want to put the cows and calves out," said Mr Stephenson, who is the ICSA chair for Wicklow, adding he was forced into running the deer off his land.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will have to control the deer situation. I'm 61 years of age and it is only in the last 25 to 30 years of age that I've seen the deer.

"It is so common now they are coming down and grazing on my front lawn," he said. "They are coming down as they are hungry."

He said forestry plantations of Sitka spruce also mean there is less grassland for them.

"I'm applying to get a section 42 licence as I want to sow rape on the farm to feed lambs," he said, adding it had reached the point where he needed to control the wildlife.

His nephew Herbie Stephenson said land he had reseeded in the area had been entirely grazed by the deer. "There isn't one blade on it," he said.

In recent weeks the NPWS stepped in and culled a number of deer on Inisfallen Island in Killarney, Co Kerry.

A number of the deer were found to have starved to death, while others were found in an emaciated condition.

A response was sought from the NPWS to the concerns raised by farmers in the Wicklow area.

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