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Deer from Kerry roaming freely in the Phoenix Park? It's not a good idea

A TD raised the idea this week, and the arts & heritage minister said she’d look into it.

clash Wild deer in Killarney National Park. Source: Barranbaile's channel

THE WILD DEER Association of Ireland has said that any plan to allow Irish red deer from Kerry to wander freely in the Phoenix Park could lead to an increase in traffic accidents.

Ireland’s largest native land mammal, the red deer have been in the country some 10,000 years and can be seen wandering on the hillsides of Killarney National Park and in the lowland pastures nearby.

The possibility of moving some deer to Dublin or other locations around the country was raised in the Dáil this week, as TDs asked arts and heritage minister Heather Humphreys about a planned cull of the species – which have no natural predators.

The cull is due to be carried out once this year’s rut (mating season) is finished and the minister told TDs that as part of ongoing management of deer populations in Killarney National Park “deer numbers may need to be reduced every year”.

“While red deer numbers have not significantly increased in the uplands of the park, lowland numbers have increased and these deer are highly visible. Unfortunately, given that deer cannot be herded like domestic animals, it is not possible to relocate them from the lowlands to the uplands.”

She said the intention of the cull “would be to focus on the red deer populations in Muckross and Knockreer in the first instance”. It would begin later this month and would be carried out by “qualified and competent National Parks and Wildlife Service personnel of my Department”.

Source: Barranbaile/YouTube

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who raised the question, said there had been a number of serious traffic accidents involving deer in the Killarney area recently.

However, he said the response of Humphrey’s department to authorise the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake a cull of red deer was “of concern to many people”.

“We need to consider the history of the red deer, which stretches back nearly 10,000 years before Christ to the Ice Age. As the only native and indigenous deer, there is an understandable public reaction to the possibility of some red deer being culled.”

He also raised the possibility of moving some animals to Dublin as an alternative to culling, noting “it has always struck me as particularly sad when visiting the Phoenix Park, for example, that the deer one sees in the park are not indigenous red deer”.

Humphreys said she would raise the suggestion with her officials.

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7/11/2015. Autumn Scenes Fallow deer in the Phoenix Park earlier this month. Source: sam boal

Not a good idea

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the Wild Deer Association said any introduction of the Kerry deer to the Dublin park could lead to an increase in road accidents as the animal is much larger than the fallow deer species currently found in the amenity.

“Reds are twice the size so you might have problems with traffic accidents,” Pat Scully said.

“Seeing them in full flight during rutting season… It’s quite a thing.”

In all likelihood, the two species would happily coexist, he added – and while the possibility of red deer being fenced off in the park could be explored, traffic problems would be the main issue with any relocation.

Sedating the deer for transport from Kerry to Dublin would also raise problems: another member of the wild deer association, director Damien Hannigan, said the drug used to tranquilise deer was no longer permitted for that purpose in Ireland.

(Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett asked “I wonder if Kerry deer would get on with Dublin deer” as Thursday’s Dáil session on the subject ended. The deer association’s Pat Scully said that whatever about getting on it would be “genetically impossible” for them to mate… In case you were wondering.)

Read: Concern over plan to kill deer blamed for Killarney car accidents >

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Daragh Brophy

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