Sniper was hired to kill more than 200 deer in Phoenix Park
The Office of Public Works (OPW) hired a sniper to kill more than 200 deer in the Phoenix Park during the past two years, selling the carcasses to a meat supplier for €19,488.
A total of 203 deer were shot by the marksman as part of eight culls carried out in 2016 and 2017. A further 57 of the animals died as a result of road accidents and natural causes during the same period.
The OPW said that the Phoenix Park remained open to the public while the culls were performed by a 68-year-old sniper from Bray, Co Wicklow.
However, it said that a "detailed protocol" was followed, which took account of the welfare of the deer and the safety of the public.
The carcasses of the culled deer were sold for an average of €96 each to a Wicklow-based meat supplier.
A cull of 38 female and 11 male deer over two days in January and February 2017 reduced the herd to 540, compared with 570 recorded in October 2016. A further two culls were carried out in November 2017, during which an additional 43 deer were killed.
In total, 111 deer were shot during four culls carried out during 2016, while 92 deer were culled over four days last year. These were made up of 138 females and 65 males.
The figures were released in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
A spokesperson for the OPW said: "An over-abundant deer population can result in increasing incidence of road traffic accidents and increase the potential role for deer in the epidemiology of specific diseases. The OPW works with the School of Biology and Environmental Science in University College Dublin with regard to the management and scientific research of the deer herd."