Independent TD, Michael Healy-Rae, has stated that Ireland needs to reduce the number of deer by 70%.
The deputy believes that this would mean “remaining deer will go to where they want to be, up in the mountains away from roads and people”.
Healy-Rae expressed his concerns during a Dáil debate on animal culls with Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022.
He asked Minister Noonan to ensure there is a “realistic” cull, adding that in County Kerry alone, 500 deer must be removed weekly for the foreseeable future.
He argued that the deer population in his native county has “exploded beyond what we can put up with”.
Healy-Rae urged the minister to treat this matter “seriously”. “We are not talking about Bambi; we are talking about people’s lives and their property,” he told the minister.
The deputy stressed that deer are putting people’s lives in danger, causing road traffic collisions, and damaging vehicles.
Continuing, the deputy said: “We have had young people crashing. I am sure we have had deaths where people’s cars have left the road. The evidence of the deer is not there because it might not have been struck.”
“We have had tragedies over the years that could have been put down to deer coming out onto the road. There is an amount of damage and a monetary cost to people.”
“Some 2,000 deer have been culled in national parks throughout the country since 2016.”
“At one time, 200 deer a week were culled when the population was not half of what it is now. The cull is tokenism; it is not a real cull,” he claimed.
“It has gone beyond a cull; at this stage, we require an eradication programme because the deer population has increased so much,” he argued.
During the exchange, the deputy told the Dáil about a farmer who contacted him in recent days following an incident.
“The farmer went into his field in the morning, and what was inside in the field? 26 deer. That is the same as a herd of cattle from your neighbour being on your grass in the morning and eating all that you had.”
“The Minister of State is aware of the cost of fertiliser. We have all heard what the cost of fertiliser will be this year.”
“People will be growing grass but could have 60% of it being eaten, in many cases, by roaming deer,” he argued.”
“Whatever else a farmer can afford to do, they cannot afford to feed the deer in the national park,” he argued.
“I have not even touched on what that means for our fences. The fences farmers are putting up are very expensive. The Minister of State knows how difficult it is to string and put tension on wire surrounding grounds.”
“When deer jump, they hit, break, get caught in and destroy fences,” he added.