Deer Population Boom: Promising Progress in Tackling the Issue

ICSA welcomes progress in addressing deer population explosion

The Deer Management Strategy Group has been making progress in addressing the rising population of deer in Ireland, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA). The ICSA’s animal health and welfare chairperson, Hugh Farrell, said that the group’s recent public consultation had confirmed “strong public support” for action to be taken to control deer numbers. Farrell argued that uncontrolled growth in deer was harmful to biodiversity, road safety and farming. He also claimed that there was a growing recognition of the role of deer in the spread of TB. The ICSA has long lobbied for government action on deer management.

Farrell called for better data on deer numbers in Ireland, stating that it was clear that numbers had “exploded”. He noted that the ICSA regularly received complaints from its members whose land was adjacent to forestry, from which deer broke in and “ate fields clean of grass”. The establishment of the management strategy group and its work showed that the government had finally recognised that something needed to be done, Farrell argued. He called for the group to devise an action plan, with necessary funds and accountability provided by the government.

Meanwhile, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has called for the public to report sightings of wild deer in urban areas. The NPWS has noted a rise in the number of deer in such areas, particularly in Dublin, Cork and Kerry. The service has warned that deer can cause road accidents and damage gardens and parks. It has also called on people not to feed deer, as this can lead to overpopulation and the spread of disease. The NPWS has advised those who encounter deer to keep a safe distance and not to approach them.

The Irish Deer Commission has also highlighted the need for a coordinated approach to deer management. It has called for the establishment of a national deer management authority, which would oversee culls and population control measures. The commission has argued that the current system, which involves a range of agencies and interest groups, is fragmented and ineffective. The commission has also called for greater public awareness of the dangers posed by deer, particularly in relation to road safety.

Deer were introduced to Ireland in the 1800s for hunting purposes. However, their population has grown significantly in recent decades, with estimates suggesting that there are now up to 200,000 wild deer in the country. This has led to increased conflicts with farmers, who argue that deer damage crops and compete with livestock for food. There are also concerns about the impact of deer on the environment, particularly in relation to the destruction of woodland.

In response to these concerns, the Deer Management Strategy Group was established in 2019. The group is made up of representatives from government departments, state agencies, farming organisations and environmental groups. Its aim is to develop a national strategy for the management of wild deer in Ireland. The group’s public consultation, which closed in November 2020, received over 1,500 responses.

The issue of deer management has been a contentious one in Ireland, with some arguing that culling is cruel and unnecessary. However, many experts believe that culling is necessary to control deer numbers and prevent damage to the environment and agriculture. The debate is likely to continue as the Deer Management Strategy Group develops its action plan and the government decides on the level of funding and support to provide.

Categories: Agriculture