Deer in Dublin's Phoenix Park Alamy Stock Photo

Danny Healy-Rae calls for 'serious cull' of deer population citing road accidents and crop damage

The Kerry TD said the number of deer on the county’s roads poses a danger to the public.

INDEPENDENT KERRY TD Danny Heal-Rae has called on the Government to conduct a “serious cull” of deer in Ireland, which he said are causing collisions on roads and damaging farms. 

Speaking in the Dáil today during Leader’s Questions, Healy-Rae said “excessive” numbers of deer are “roaming our roads in Kerry”. 

“Road safety is paramount and these deer are compromising people’s safety,” he said. 

“Deer have caused many deaths in our county and left many cars and vehicles in smithereens. We can’t carry on in Kerry now with the increased number of deer. They’re everywhere in droves, every road in the county and they’re even coming into towns and villages.”

He said that damage done to crops coupled with high fertiliser prices was making life “unbearable” for people working in agriculture. 

Additionally, he said that sika deer are “vermin” and that “we love our red deer and we do our best to maintain that”. 

Sika deer are an invasive species and much more numerous than native red deer. Ireland has no top predator to control the deer population since wolves went extinct in the late 19th Century, so culls are common.

Unchecked deer populations can do extensive damage to trees and their environment. 

He laid some of the blame for the situation, particularly on the roads, on the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), saying that many of the deer were “emanating from the national park and forestries, which many are state forestries”. 

“I’m asking you now, Taoiseach, to organise a proper cull, a serious cull,” he said. 

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Government does not believe a national cull is needed and mentioned that the NPWS does carry out culls of deer already. 

“We do have a deer management forum that works between the Department of Agriculture and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and so far 5500 licenses have been issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service for deer hunting,” Varadkar said. 

“The National Parks and Wildlife Service culls deer in the national parks itself. And also there’s a section 42 system for for landowners.”

Section 42 allows landowners to apply for permission to deal with wild animal species that do damage to flora and fauna on their property.

“We don’t believe that a national cull program is needed. But the forum has a report on this shortly. We’ll make further recommendations.”

Heal-Rae said that he was not happy with Varadkar’s response and said more hunting licenses were needed.

“It needs to be more like 100,000 licenses.”

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