A Kerry TD has called on the government to carry out an “extensive cull” of Sika deer across the country.
Independent Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said that farmers and rural communities are “very concerned” about the over population of the deer species.
“This is resulting in harm to crops and habitats leading to financial ruin for farmers,” he said.
The TD claimed that the high number of Sika deer is “also increasing the risk of spreading bovine tuberculosis (TB) and Lyme disease”
“They are [a] constant threat on our roads, to the safety of the many people travelling, constantly damaging vehicles, leading to serious injury and fatalities.
“It is now high time for the government to act in the interest of farmers and the protection and safety of people traveling our road network.
“A serious extensive cull has to be put in place by the government,” the Kerry TD said.
Sika deer originated in northeast Asia and are now the most common non-native deer species in Ireland.
According to the Irish Deer Commission, the species is the smallest deer in the country with stags weighting 50-65kg and hinds ranging from 35-45kg.
Sika deer were introduced to Ireland by Lord Powerscourt in 1860 and were later moved to enclosed parks in counties Fermanagh; Kerry; Limerick; Down and Monaghan, from where some escaped.
The main herds of wild Sika deer are concentrated in Kerry; Wicklow; Tyrone and Fermanagh with other herds in Dublin; Kildare; Carlow; Cork and Donegal.
There have also been reports of the species being found in Waterford; Galway; Limerick, and Wexford.
Sika are protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 and may be hunted during specific times in the year under a section 29 licence granted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has issued a reminder that the public consultation on a new Deer Management Strategy will close at 5:00p.m today (Friday, February 10).
The initiative, being coordinated by the Deer Management Strategy Group, will gather opinions on how increased numbers of deer have impacted on forestry, biodiversity, road safety and animal health and welfare.
The Rural Independent Group of TDs, of which Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is a member, had called for a four-week extension to the public consultation that was launched on December 21 last.
Anyone wishing to share their views can complete the online survey on the Government of Ireland website (www.gov.ie).