Over 4,500 deer hunting applications have been made so far this year, according to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys

According to the Minister, her Department has received over 4,500 applications for deer hunting licences to date in 2015, of which some 4,400 applications have now been processed.

The Minister also said she understands that any delays arising have been substantially reduced.

The news comes as new testing has found that 18% of deer tested in a pocket of Co. Wicklow tested were confirmed positive for TB, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Between October 2014 and January 2015, a total of 103 deer were removed from an area in east Co. Wicklow, north of Roundwood and south of the Sugar Loaf Mountain as a result of a standalone exercise undertaken by the Department of Agriculture.

According to the Department, all were Sika deer, with a 48.5% and 51.5% split between male and female deer respectively, with an average age of 3.5 years.

The Department says that there was no evidence of M. bovis found in 87 carcases suggesting infection in some 16 animals, which equates to an infection rate of 18%.

The IFA has recently said that farmers in areas throughout the country have real concerns in relation to the role wild deer encroaching onto their land is having in prolonging TB episodes and contributing to new outbreaks.

Its Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart recently said that it has to be more than a coincidence that the county that has made the least progress in reducing the incidence of TB is also the most populated with deer.