Venison should be gifted to charity as 'protein' source from deer cull

There is a planned cull of red deer.
There is a planned cull of red deer.
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A mart manager is calling for the meat from culled deer to be donated to charity and used as a valuable source of protein for people in need.

Kenmare Mart manager, Dan McCarthy, who is also an Independent member of Kerry County Council, put his proposal before the local authority at its monthly meeting yesterday.

It comes before a planned cull of deer at Killarney National Park is due to commence once rutting season is over.

Mr McCarthy has also called for all culled deer to be tested for TB in light of claims that the deer herd is spreading the disease to bovine animals.

He told the Farming Independent that although he has been accused of "hair-brained" ideas, both of his proposals made a lot of sense. "We're always on about people who don't have a house or don't have food at our meetings and this would be one way of addressing food shortages if this meat was distributed through charities like the St Vincent de Paul or food banks," he said.

"It's completely organic, has never been injected with anything and is top quality meat.

"I realise venison is not to everyone's taste but what would be wrong with having it as an option so that people can choose it if they want.

"I'm always being told I come up with some hairy ideas but to me, this is common sense."

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Mr McCarthy said it would also be a "wasted opportunity" if the carcasses of the cull animals are not tested for TB.

His proposal follows similar calls from farming organisations.

In October the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) announced it was to carry out a cull of lowland deer, both native Red Deer and the smaller Sika that was introduced in the 19th century, amid an outcry about a rise in the number of fatal car crashed linked to roaming animals.

It comes as agreement over a controlled deer cull for the TB blackspot of Wicklow looks set to be announced shortly.

The NPWS confirmed there has been a rise in deer populations but says it cannot quantify this as it does not have the resources to count them.

However, Sika deer in the Kerry park are said to be at much lower densities than can be found in Wicklow.

Meanwhile, farmers are ­calling for the levels of compensation for herds impacted by TB to be increased substantially.

An increase in traffic accidents, a high incidence of TB in areas populated by wild deer and damage to farmland, including broken fences, damaged crops and lost pasture, have all been blamed on the national deer herd.

Chairman of Wicklow IFA, Tom Shortt said losses to farmers in the Wicklow TB blackspot were estimated to be running at in excess of €1.5m a year. A second survey of TB infection in deer in Wicklow, by the department is expected to reveal infection at 24pc in lower lying areas, compared to 16pc recorded in the initial survey which was carried out in the mountain/forest areas.

Mr Shortt said that the general public are now realising that there is a real problem with deer in the county coming into their gardens, and causing accidents on the road.

Cases of TB on Wicklow farms are estimated to be around four times the national average.

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