Tom Byrne, a beef farmer from Co. Wicklow says he has been plagued by deer on his farm for years now and that they eat everything in front of them.
The Manor Kilbride farmer was speaking on Joe Duffy’s Liveline where he said that at seven in the morning he could have 25 to 30 deer in a paddock.
“I sought a permit to shoot deer off season five or six years ago and at the time the ranger told me that there was 30,000 in WIcklkow that they had accounted for and that’s the ones they knew about.They’re everywhere, anywhere there’s forestry.
You can shoot them in season but you can’t shoot them without a permit and you cant shoot them out of season without a permit. I have sought permits before but they’re getting harder and harder to get.
“Even with the permit you might shoot five or six or seven or eight but its coming no where near to solving a problem, there’s just so many of them,” he said.
One contributor to the show said that a farmer in Wicklow gave him permission to shoot deer on his land yet he saw none. He believes this is because there is illegal poaching going on.
“Everybody owns them and nobody owns them. My land is bordered by a big forest managed by Coillte, and another piece of land I have [where the forest] is managed by the Irish Forestry Unit Trust (IFUS). But all they’re interested in is the trees; they’re not interested in fencing off their lands the same as farmers do.
“Coillte don’t want to know, they put down a fence when they plant a new forest and when that fence goes into disrepair its up to the farmer then. A fence for a deer needs to be at least eight feet high, because they’ll jump over it and if they’re frightened they’ll just jump through it,” he said.
Tom says the deer are costing him and his neighbours money and it’s in-chargeable the amount of grass they eat.
You can imagine 25 or 30 deer in the paddock, they come in at maybe three or four in the morning. I’m normally over there around seven or seven thirty in the morning and I count them and see how many are in the neighbours field.
“As soon as they see you they just take flight back into he forest,” Tom says.
Tom says he would want to be on a 24 hour patrol to keep them out, which is not practical and he lives about three miles away from the land.
He said that his local branch of the IFA have made numerous presentations to Coillte and that it has just been kicked here there and down the road, and they don’t want to know.
Chair of the Wicklow IFA, Tom Shortt said that one of the single biggest problems in the last few years he has faced is the over population of deer across the county, that it’s going on for the last 25 or 30 years.
He believes there has to be recognition of the problem.
We have to realise that the deer population has moved from the top of the hills, down into the forest and into the farm land and they’re causing havoc now.
He said that the farmer from Manor Kilbride is putting out fertiliser and getting no grass; they’re a huge danger on the road and are helping to spread TB.
Tom says he is I’m spreading a lot of expensive fertilizer to grow grass to rear cattle and by the time my cattle get to that paddock half of it could have been eaten. We’re fighting an uphill battle the whole time and the authorities dont want to listen.
Tom says that the authorities will claim responsibility of the deer if you’re in breach of the law if you go shooting them yet when they’re doing damage nobody owns them.
Damien Hannigan of the Wild Deer Association says that the deer have to be managed and that last year over 29,000 deer were culled under license by deer hunters but nobody knows how many there are in the country.
Numbers suggest they are declining in some areas but in other areas there is excessive numbers.
“They will do damage absolutely, we’d notice a 20% decline in these [deer shooting] permits which would suggest fewer landowners would have problems; but it depends on the area of the country you live in,” Damien said.
He said that there is an increasing number of lampers and lurchers killing deer; that they are chased down by lurchers and either bludgeoned to to death or has its throat cut; it’s barbaric, he said.
Councillor Johnny Healy Rae in Co. Kerry said that the county is overrun with deer, that there is a road running through and alongside the National Park and farmers surround it.
They’ve motorways run through farms. Deer have caused fatal road accidents where people are killed, destroyed farmers crops, fences and make life a living hell for people living off the land.