Department to fund pilot deer fencing project

The Department of Agriculture is proposing to fund a pilot project on the use of deer fencing, designed to alleviate concerns of farmers in Wicklow regarding TB.

The primary aim of the project is to establish the efficacy of a particular type of fencing in preventing access to lands by wild deer, a spokesperson for the Department said.

“It is proposed to select one farm in the West Wicklow area, the location and size of which are optimal from the perspective of establishing the primary aim and the cost.

“The fencing will be monitored over a period of   time along with the TB situation in the selected farm. The exercise is intended to be a proof-of-concept.”

If, ultimately, it can be demonstrated that it is effective in preventing deer ingress onto the farm, the spokesperson said that it may be considered as a viable option for farmers in reducing risk of the spread of TB infection by deer.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture last week, the Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture, Aidan O’Driscoll said TB remains “a great national challenge”.

He said that the herd incidence of TB has declined from 5.9% in 2008 to 3.06% in 2016, as of October 10.

“The quality control measures introduced, including interferon gamma blood testing, have impacted significantly on disease levels, through earlier removal of reactors, and the significant reduction can also be attributed to the wildlife/badger removal programme,” he said.