Record numbers of wild deer were culled

April 24th, 2023 9:45 PM

By Southern Star Team

Almost 2,500 wild deer were culled in Cork in a year. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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DATA released by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to the Irish Deer Commission show 2,492 wild deer were culled in Cork in the 12-months to February 2022. 

In total, the country saw 55,008 animals culled which was up 24% from the previous record set in 2019 when 44,381 deer were culled. 

A total of 70% of the national deer cull came from the six counties of Wicklow, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Kerry, Galway. Hunters must make an annual declaration to NPWS stating the number of deer culled by county, sex, and species, and this data is provided to the Irish Deer Commission annually. While the data is not independently verified, hunters are required to sign a declaration confirming the accuracy of the information returned.

However, Damien Hannigan, spokesperson for the Irish Deer Commission, said numbers are likely to be significantly higher as the total does not include wild deer killed illegally in poaching, or include the growing number of deer killed on our roads. 

The hike can be partly explained by the hike in hunters licensed to cull deer which has grown significantly with 6,232 licenses issued in 2022, up 17% from the previous year.

The Irish Deer Commission also believe restrictions around the management of deer during the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with a worldwide crash in venison prices, delays by NPWS 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 Commission said recent calls by Minister Eamon Ryan for a national cull were arbitrary and unhelpful, as there’s already a national cull of over 55,000 wild deer each year. The Commission also criticised the recent deer management strategy group launched by the government to develop a national deer management strategy.

‘The group has caused considerable concern among deer experts and deer management organisations, as the deer management strategy group has no stakeholders or deer experts but only civil servants. Both the Irish Deer Commission and administrators of the Hunter Competence Assessment Programme Deer Alliance have highlighted concerns that the consultation process has a predetermined outcome, nor does it address the basic principles to develop a national deer management strategy.’ 

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