Reds under major threat
The main species present – to varying degrees – in our woodlands are reds, sika, red/sika hybrids, fallow deer and the most recent arrival, the Reeves muntjac.
Red deer is our only native species and is thought to have been in Ireland since the last ice age. Now, however, the animals are cross-breeding with the introduced Japanese Sika – and Killarney is probably the only location where reds of genetic purity still survive in Ireland.
Fallow deer, originally native to Turkey, are thought to have been first introduced by the Romans to many European countries, including Britain, and the Anglo Normans may have brought it from there to Ireland during the 12th Century.
The Reeves muntjac are tiny deer that can cause extensive damage and are regarded as an invasive species. They appear to be spreading throughout the country and there have been sightings of them in Wicklow and other counties.
This is despite the fact that the introduction or release of the muntjac is a crime under the Wildlife Act 2000.