‘Crim­i­nals’ tar­get­ing Kerry deer

IR­ISH DEER AS­SO­CI­A­TION MEET KIL­LAR­NEY GAR­DAÍ OVER DEER DEATHS

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By SINEAD KELLE­HER

IL­LE­GAL poach­ing of deer is at “its worst level ever” in Kerry ac­cord­ing to the Ir­ish Deer As­so­ci­a­ton. The na­tional group met with Kil­lar­ney Gar­daí re­cently to dis­cuss se­ri­ous con­cerns over the il­le­gal deer poach­ing across the county par­tic­uarly in ar­eas out­side Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park.

PRO for the Ir­ish Deer As­so­ci­a­tion, Damien Han­ni­gan, be­lieves that the rea­son for this is two-fold.

One is in­creased num­bers of il­le­gal hun­ters seek­ing to shoot and sell on the meat to game deal­ers. The sec­ond rea­son is a fear among farm­ers that deer are spread­ing TB - a claim that has no truth, he said.

“TB is a huge con­cern for farm­ers and a very emo­tive is­sue but the fact of the mat­ter is that any wildlife species is ca­pa­ble of con­tract­ing TB and there is no ev­i­dence that deer are spread­ing it,” he said. The fod­der cri­sis has also ex­caber­ated the sit­u­a­tion as farm­ers be­gin to ‘de­test’ deer and lay blame on them.

The Ir­ish Deer As­so­ci­a­tion be­lieves that there needs to be a meet­ing be­tween all stake­hold­ers in Kerry in­clud­ing farm­ers, foresty man­age­ment and own­ers, hun­ters and con­ser­va­tion­ists.

“It is a se­ri­ous is­sue. Deer poach­ing is at its worst level ever seeen and I have been in­volved in wildlife crime for years.”

The is­sue is spread across South Kerry but it is par­tic­u­larly preva­lent out­side Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park from Coolea in Cork right down to Ken­mare and Tu­o­sist and in ar­eas in Kil­lar­ney as well.

“These crim­i­nals are tak­ing what they can get,” he said.

It is il­le­gal to hunt sika deer in Kerry ex­cept be­tween Septem­ber 1 and Fe­bru­ary 28 with a li­cense. There is no open sea­son on red deer in Kerry as they are a pro­tected species.

Both are be­ing shot by il­le­gal poach­ers but it is mainly sika deer as they are more preva­lent in the county.

The Ir­ish Deer As­so­ci­a­tion is re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing deer and in Kerry said their mem­bers op­er­ate with li­censes and within the des­ig­nated time pe­riod. He added that they log any deer culled with the au­thor­i­ties.

How­ever, more and more peo­ple are turn­ing to the il­le­gal poach­ing of deer.

Damien Han­ni­gan, sec­re­tary of the Wild Deer As­so­ci­a­tion.

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