Representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will meet with farmers in Co. Wicklow on Monday to discuss a planned deer cull in the county.

Wicklow had the highest incidence of bovine TB in Ireland during the first 10 months of 2016, with an incidence rate of 12.53% in West Wicklow and 7.35% in East Wicklow.

Speaking to Agriland recently, the Junior Minister for Agriculture, Andrew Doyle said there is no one reason for the high levels of bovine TB seen in Co. Wicklow.

“The land profile here, because we have farmland, forestry and open country, is perfect for wildlife – not just deer, but all types of wildlife,” he said.

However, he did cite a recent study which looked at the levels of TB present within the deer population around the Sugar Loaf.

There were 130 deer taken out 18 months ago in one particular area near the sugar loaf, he said, and it was discovered that 17% of the deer had TB of which 7-8% was transmittable.

On the back of these results, Minister Doyle said the Department has called a meeting to outline the specified cull that will be carried out to reduce the deer population in the area.

He also touched on another study which will test over 1,500 deer to identify the presence of TB among the deer population in the county.

“The veterinary team within the Department are trying to get a representative spread right across the county…to make sure that they don’t miss any gaps and to make sure that they can identify enough out of each area to say there is a problem here.”

The results from this study, he said, will be cross-referenced with TB in bovines or cattle, allowing the Department to identify the ideal population densities for co-habitation between cattle and deer.

He also said it is important to focus on the TB hot spots to ensure that Ireland achieves its target of becoming TB free by 2030.