Grisly discovery of severed heads of six native Red Deer doe and calf
Warning: graphic imagery
THE discovery of the severed heads of six native Red Deer doe and a six-month-old calf goes against assurances given by Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys, the Wild Deer Association of Ireland has claimed.
The grim discovery was made at a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) facility off the Mill Road in the Killarney National Park on Monday by a member of the public.
Last night the Department was insisting the culling “conformed with NPWS scientific oversight” and was conducted by trained wildlife staff.
A statement from the Department also said the images that were taken in a restricted area were “designed to give a misleading impression to the public”.
But the Wild Deer Association of Ireland says Minister Humphreys had given assurances in the Dáil that “only old and infirm animals would be culled”.
Its director, Damien Hannigan, says Monday’s discovery flies in the face of these assurances.
Red deer are a protected species and the animals roaming the Killarney National Park are the only wild native deer left in Ireland.
However, in recent years, roaming deer in Kerry have been blamed for causing traffic accidents and damage to farmland, leading to calls for a cull.
The Wild Deer Association of Ireland says while it is not against a cull, it must be done in way that’s mindful of the genetic integrity of the herd.
The last time a cull was carried out was in 2009 but the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht says the native deer population is not known.
“We’re not against culling but we are against indiscriminate culling that doesn’t follow a management plan,” Mr Hannigan told the Irish Independent.
“Unfortunately, culling is the only method whereby the native Kerry Red deer can be managed but because of their low genetic diversity it must be done properly and not indiscriminately."
Mr Hannigan said the culling of the young animals vindicated concerns.
The statement from the Department added: “They (culls) are conducted in accordance with best husbandry practice and in full conformity with scientific and agricultural guidelines.
“The shooting is being carried out responsibly and appropriately by qualified, trained and competent and expert NPWS staff.”
Nine deer have been shot so far, including eight Red deer and one Sika and the cull is expected to be completed in two months.