Saturday 24 March 2018

Fawns tagged as park’s deer population soars

Fiona Dillon

By Fiona Dillon

A hundred new fawns will be leaping alongside the deer population in the Phoenix Park by the end of this month.

Efforts are now underway to tag the new arrivals to the herd so they can be easily identified.

Terry Moore, the park ranger and deer keeper in the Phoenix Park said: "We have been tagging them for the last 15 years. They all get an individual number and there is a different colour tag for each year.


"UCD have been studying the herds, and they also help with the tagging for research purposes. They can trace 
who the mother and the father was going back to the last 20 years," said Terry.

"The deer population was around 450, but at least 100 fawns will be born so it will be up to 550 at the end of the June."

It's the fawning season and 83 have been tagged so far.

"We don't get to tag them all because after a couple of weeks they are just too hard to catch," said Terry.

"When they are first born in the first couple of days, they are easy enough to catch. They are just lying there in the cover of nettles and thistles and high grass.

"The mother will go off and will leave the fawn there and come back periodically throughout the day, so the fawn can suckle. They can walk within hours of being born. After a week they are well able to jump and leap and run. When they are strong enough they will join their mothers."

The male herd occupy one side of the park on the east side down by the cricket grounds and soccer pitches, and the females occupy the west side of the park, which is the Chapelizod/Castleknock end. They only come together for the mating season.


The veterinary and zoology students from UCD help with the tagging.

"We use fishing nets," said Terry. "We walk a forensic line, two metres apart. When they are bit older we form a circle."

The tags go on two ears and the students take DNA samples, hair samples, tissue samples and weigh the fawn as well.

Meanwhile, the public are being asked not to move fawns if they find them and keep dogs on leashes in signposted areas.


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