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

Deer danger has ‘exploded’ in East Clare

DEER are causing “extreme danger” on roads across East Clare, a meeting of Killaloe district councillor has been told. 

The matter was raised by Councillor Pat Hayes who said there had been a number of collisions in recent weeks and that deer were creating “a high risk” for all road users. “Anyone living on the mountain edges knows that is a continuous and major issue that has now exploded,” the Caher man said.

“I’ve heard from several people who’ve told me they’ve had deer running against them when they’re out on the road. This is a real road safety issue right across the region.

“The Slieve Aughtys are a haven for deer and they have now moved down into the valleys. Many farmers have 20 to 30 deers on their land when they go out in the morning. We are all now owners of a huge deer population and there’s extreme danger when they move out onto the roads.”

Councillor Hayes recalled how a former colleague, the late Councillor Colm Wiley, had made national headlines when he raised the matter nearly 20 years ago. “This isnt going away,” Councillor Hayes said. Its now a national issue for a lot of rural counties. I don’t know what we can do.

“There has to be a cull and there needs to be a forum to look at this issue. The threat is very imminent if we don’t deal with it. This is an extremely dangerous time of the year and we have to engage with all of the agencies on this.”

Controversy over the activities and size of Ireland’s deer population has intensified in recent weeks. Public representatives in several counties, including Kerry, Waterford and Wicklow, have highlighted issues including road safety, crop damage and the potential spread of TB.

The Irish Deer Commission has noted the absence of national and verified deer density data, and said that “the true deer population is unknown in Ireland”. The most recently available national statistics date to 2018, and many rural dwellers believe that deer numbers have increased significantly since then.

Recent research from UCD suggests that red deer have spread their range by some five or six times over the last 30 years; the range of Sika has more than trebled, and that of fallow deer has almost doubled

Last month, the agriculture minister announced a new Deer Management Strategy Group chaired by diary farmer, Teddy Cashman. The focus of the group, which works in in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) will include efforts to eradicate bovine TB.

Last month, the Irish Deer Commission issued to motorists at the outset of the deer breeding season. The Commission warned that dawn and dusk are the times when deer are most active, particularly in high-risk areas such as woodlands and mountains. The advice to drivers is to reduce speed where they see a deer warning sign and stay alert.

Prepare to stop, never swerve as you could hit another obstacle or oncoming vehicle,” the Commission has advised. When you see a deer dip your headlights as the full beam may cause the deer to freeze. If a deer has crossed in front of your vehicle, be aware that others may follow. Do not approach an injured deer.”

The advice to anyone who is involved in a road traffic accident with a deer, or who come across a deer that has been involved in a road traffic accident, is to immediately contact the Gardaí. The Irish Deer Commission operates a humane deer dispatch scheme with 135 trained volunteers assisting agencies and charities who deal with an increasing number of deer vehicle collisions nationally. 

Deer are a protected species under the Wildlife Acts. Hunting licences are issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Open Season is the period during which deer can be legally shot and operates generally from September 1 to February 28 annually, depending on the species and gender of deer. Over 6,000 deer hunting licences were issued last season, according to the DHLGH.

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