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New figures reveal the number of deer culled in Clare to February 2022.

Deer cull figures revealed

DEER cull figures for Clare have been released, amid ongoing concerns over a rapid increase in their numbers in rural parts of the county.

Data secured by the Irish Deer Commission show that 1,844 deer were officially culled in Clare in a 12-month period to February 2022. The true figure, the Commission believes, is likely to be higher when deer poaching and road kills are included. 

“The actual deer cull is likely to be significantly higher as the cull total does not include wild deer killed illegally known as deer poaching, nor does the total include the growing number of deer killed on our roads,” Damien Hannigan a spokesperson for the Irish Deer Commission said. “Over the last five years over 200,000 wild deer were culled in Ireland under licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] and highlights the important role licensed deer hunters play in managing deer at sustainable levels to minimise negative impacts on farming, forestry, and the wider ecosystem. The Irish Deer Commission actively work with landowners who suffer negative impacts from wild deer, we also support the various agencies who deal with an increasing number of deer vehicle collisions on our roads through a network of trained members.” 

With growing calls to address a reported increase in deer activity, Mr Hannigan said that a range of factors are involved. “The Irish Deer Commission believe restrictions around the management of deer during the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with a worldwide crash in venison prices, delays by NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] in the issuing of deer culling permits, poor forestry design for the management of deer, and a rapid expansion afforestation in Ireland, all have created the perfect storm for deer numbers to increase,” the spokesperson said. 

The organisation noted the fact that a national cull of over 55,000 wild deer takes place each year. The county-by-county figures underline the issue in Wicklow which accounted for 36% of the cull to the start of last year. Just over 15,200 deer were culled in that county according to the data. 

After highlighting the movement of deer from the Slieve Aughtys into farm land and roads in East Clare, Councillor Pat Hayes again repeated his call for people to engage with a national consultation process and to be aware of the impending closing date of next Friday. Currently, the size of the Irish deer population is unknown and consultation, coordinated by The Deer Management Strategy Group is underway to gather insights. 

Councillor Hayes told The Champion he had received a massive response after publicising the concerns of the farming community and those travelling regularly through rural Clare. “The problem is a long-standing one around the Slieve Aughtys,” the Caher man said. “We need to know what the scale of the issue and this consultation process provides an opportunity to record what they are dealing with.”

The Irish Deer Commission, however, has raised concerns that the consultation process is “designed in a manner that has a predetermined outcome”. It highlighted the contribution made by wild deer make to the wider ecosystem.

The Commission has highlighted research showing the positive contribution deer can make to woodland biodiversity when their numbers are managed at sustainable levels.

The national consultation process closes on Friday (February 10) at 5pm with an online survey available at Gov.ie. 

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