The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called on the Government to address the concerning increase and spread of deer which in some areas is a significant factor in the spread of Bovine TB.
Speaking on this, INHFA President Vincent Roddy stressed the need for a coordinated approach by all State bodies to address this problem.
“Due to increased afforestation and lack of correct management of our wild deer population over many years, the deer population has increased exponentially. This increase is seen not just in uplands areas, which would be their natural habitat, but is now spreading to many other areas of the country,” he said.
In a recent Oireachtas Committee discussion on Bovine TB, it was acknowledged that increases in the deer population was a major factor in the spread of the disease.
“In that forum the INHFA outlined our proposal that a proper deer management structure be put in place. This would involve the provision of suitable state land designated as habitat for deer. The land would have to be capable of sustaining the deer, and needs to be properly fenced in order to ensure that the animals are kept within the designated area,” Mr. Roddy continued.
“Part of correct deer management would involve a properly organised and supervised cull. Although this might not be a popular move with some members of the public, it is necessary to help maintain the health of the wild deer population.
This, the INHFA Leader maintained, “is a role for the State and specifically the National Parks and Wildlife Service, that have National Parks in the counties where there is a high population of deer”. These parks would, he added, “need to be properly fenced for deer and involve a commitment to maintain fences as part of any state support package for the NPWS”.
On proposals to introduce wolves or the lynx as a means to address the problem, Roddy was scathing of those suggesting this.
“Proponents of this are driven by a re-wilding ideology and using the deer problem as a means to deliver on this,” he said.
“Those suggesting this are fully aware of the consequences of re-introducing predators such as wolves or lynx, who won’t go chasing down deer when there are much easier options provided by sheep and younger cattle. This of course is what they want and would fulfil their re-wilding fantasy across most of our hills and in some lowland areas”.
Concluding, the INHFA President pointed to other European countries where there has been a clear plan in the management of wild deer.
“In Ireland we have seen a haphazard approach to the management of wild deer which has brought us to the crisis point we now find ourselves in. This crisis now requires active State involvement and not the fantasy ideology of new predators”.