Shooting of Red deer in Kerry a ‘blatant abuse of Ireland’s heritage’

The shooting of protected Red deer in Co. Kerry is a blatant abuse of Ireland’s national heritage, Damien Hannigan of the Wild Deer Association of Ireland has said.

Speaking to Agriland he said that Red deer in Kerry are unique, they are the last native red deer in Ireland and they are of national and international conservation importance.

“If a landowner has a genuine need to shoot a deer, they can apply for a section 42 permit which allows them to nominate someone to shoot the deer for them.”

Hannigan said that there is an ongoing investigation after two Red deer were shot, where there is an allegation that a person was nominated by a landowner under a section 42 permit and this person is allegedly associated with a legitimate commercial hunting business.

“The permit in turn was reportedly sold on to an American tourist for €5,000, who didn’t realise that he was shooting protected red stags.

“Our concern would be that this would be a blatant abuse of our national heritage.”

To shoot a deer a person is required to have a valid deer hunting licence (section 29) from National Parks and Wildlife Service, in addition only specific licensed firearms can be used to cull deer – above .2250 calibre, Hannigan said.

The section 42 permit only allows the nominated hunter by the landowner to cull a specified number of deer during a specified period, outside the designated open hunting season.

A section 42 is required at all times when a Red deer has to be culled, as there is no hunting season for Red deer, he said.

Last year, only seven section 42 permits were granted for the entire county of Kerry and this figure covered both Red deer and Sika.

Numbers of red deer dropped to 50-60 animals in the late 60s/70s and there’s no hunting season for the red deer as they are protected.

It has been estimated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) that this number has recovered to somewhere in the region of 500-600.

For Sika deer there is a hunting season, from September 1 to December 31 for males and between November 1 and February 28 for antler-less and female deer.

Meanwhile, a study on the genetic make-up of the Red deer herd in Killarney by Dr. Ruth Carden in 2012 found the gentic makeup of the herd has low genetic diversity.

Hannigan said that this research would have shown that the herd needs in the region of 1,000 deer to reduce the impact of low genetic diversity.

Road traffic accidents

In the last 12 months, two motions have come from Kerry County Council in reference to deer and road traffic accidents, according to Hannigan.

“In terms of road traffic accidents involving deer, in Ireland it’s not the norm, while in the UK there was 70,000 reported deer traffic accidents last year.

“In Ireland there are around 400-500 road traffic accidents every year,” he said.

Regarding Co. Kerry, Hannigan said that there’s a lot of things that drivers can do to avoid accidents with deer.

“Deer are more active at dawn and dusk, we are urging drivers to be vigilant and to slow down in such areas.

“If you see a deer crossing the road, you should dip the headlights in the car. Also people often swerve to avoid the deer and this can cause a collision.

“Deer generally travel in numbers, so drivers should be aware that there will more than likely be a few together.”