Chi­nese deer to be shot on sight if spot­ted in Co. Wick­low

Bray People - - News -

IL­LE­GAL Chi­nese deer spot­ted around Co. Wick­low are to be shot on sight in Ir­ish forests, ac­cord­ing to Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment ex­perts.

The 19-inch-high Mun­t­jac deer have been brought into the coun­try and re­leased il­le­gally into the wild, Depart­ment of­fi­cials be­lieve.

The non-na­tive species, also known as ‘bark­ing’ deer, pose a threat to the Ir­ish deer pop­u­la­tions of Sika, Red an Fal­low.

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials, the Mun­t­jac may carry bovine, TB, foot and mouth dis­ease, Lyme’s dis­ease and blue­tongue virus. They also have a rep­u­ta­tion for dam­ag­ing crops. The Mun­t­jac have been spot­ted in Co Wick­low in three sep­a­rate ar­eas 15km apart and some have al­ready been shot by li­censed hun­ters. Now En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter John Gorm­ley has de­clared ‘open sea­son’ on the Mun­t­jac for the next 12 months un­der the Wildlife Act. Na­tive deer species are pro­tected and can only be hunted dur­ing very spe­cific parts of the year. But li­censed deer hun­ters will be able to hunt Mun­t­jac through­out the State sub­ject to the per­mis­sion of the landowner.

‘The in­tro­duc­tion of the Mun­t­jac deer in Bri­tain has re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to com­mer­cial wood­land, farm crops and gar­dens over the years,’ Mr Gorm­ley said.

‘I am of the view that this au­tho­ri­sa­tion en­sure that the species does not gain a foothold in the coun­try.’

He added that the depart­ment is ex­am­in­ing fur­ther mea­sures with a view to erad­i­cat­ing the species be­fore it be­comes es­tab­lished.

The Mun­t­jac’s small size and its lik­ing for wood­land habi­tats to­gether with its ex­tended breed­ing sea­son, al­lows it to build up num­bers and reach high den­si­ties quickly. The Depart­ment warned it is a crim­i­nal of­fence to in­tro­duce and release Mun­t­jac deer and Mr Gorm­ley said they would vig­or­ously pur­sue ‘any in­di­vid­ual in­tro­duc­ing in­va­sive species into the State.’

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