‘Farmers should be allowed to shoot deer out of season’

A farmer out of season can’t shoot deer and that law is going to have to be changed, Pat O’Reilly, a farmer from Co. Wicklow has said.

O’Reilly was speaking at an Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) meeting on the deer problem in Wicklow recently of over 60 farmers and a number of farmers there on the night agreed with his sentiments.

“The deer population is getting bigger and bigger and still unless you’ve a Section 42 [license] you’re not allowed to shoot them.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that that law will have to be changed. If a farmer has a license or if he has someone that does have one to shoot the deer then he should be allowed to shoot them all year round on his land.”

Culling to 50-80 deer would be no good in Wicklow and the south east,culling 50,000 a year would be more like it.

“I can’t understand why the farmer just can’t shoot the deer, why can’t that law be brought in where we can shoot the deer the whole year round.

“If the deer is causing problems and putting farmers out of business why aren’t they allowed shoot the deer?”

Should farmers be allowed to shoot deer in the closed season that encroach on their land?

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Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, who was at the meeting, said that if the deer population gets out of control it causes a lot more problems than just animal health problems.

The Minister agreed that there needs to be an extended period for deer shooting.

“The official cull figure for Wicklow each year is 13,000 and it doesn’t seem to be able to stem the numbers or it isn’t able to deal with the density.”

With deer, the grass is the low-hanging fruit for them when the land that they would normally want to be on in the uplands is not suitable.

“If the female numbers are controlled it will reduce the number of new deer being born each year.”

On hunters just shooting male deer he said understandably enough, the stags are worth more to people for reasons like carcass value, he said.

Deer preservation system is ‘skewed’

The whole deer preservation system is skewed and wrong, according to another Wicklow farmer Seamus Healy.

“What we’re preserving now are [the Sika deer] that were brought in from Japan by a landlord, the Muntjac and we have the hybrids.

“It should be open season on them. The only deer that need to be and should be preserved are the native Red deer and the Fallow deer.”