'Significant' cull of deer taking place in Killarney National Park branded as 'mass slaughter'
A "significant" cull of deer is taking place in the Killarney National Park, with the unique Killarney red deer, the country’s oldest largest mammal, targeted alongside the non-native sika, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has confirmed.
More than 120 deer have been culled so far and the shooting is being carried out “only” by trained NPWS staff.
However, the Irish Deer Commission has strongly criticised the current Killarney cull branding it as “mass slaughter” and saying sika rather than reds should be the focus.
Deer numbers had to be kept at sustainable levels and culls might need to be carried out annually in Killarney to protect woodland and other habitats, the NPWS said.
Locally, calls have been growing for control of deer numbers because of collisions motorists, damage to farmland and gardens and to ancient woodland in the park. Earlier this year a herd of sika were found starving to death on Inisfallen Island.
Red deer are regularly to be seen in the town centre and urban gardens, because of an increase in numbers and or pressure on fodder. A census of deer giving exact numbers of both species is yet to be finalised.
Large numbers of deer were being culled at night by shooting “randomly” into herds, the commission which aims to advise the Government on deer management and conservation said.
Random night time shooting brought stress on the herd and was a danger to motorists too, said spokesman Damien Hannigan.