Wicklow deer project ‘an acknowledgement’ of issue

The signing of a contract with the Wicklow Uplands Council for the provision of deer management services in Wicklow has been welcomed by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Commenting on the announcement, which was made yesterday (Thursday, August 2), ICSA Rural Development Committee chairperson Seamus Sherlock said: “This is indeed a step in the right direction; however, it must be viewed as just that – a step.”

Also Read: New project to address ‘unsustainably high deer populations’ in Wicklow

“Primarily, it is an important acknowledgement by both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that ‘unsustainable deer populations have the potential to impact adversely on agriculture’, but we must go further.”

The consequences of uncontrolled deer populations in Wicklow have been felt for too long by local farmers.

“Grazing pastures and feed supplies are being mercilessly raided on a daily basis. This is coupled with the above average number of TB reactor cattle in those areas populated by deer and amounts to an intolerable situation for many.

“Mandatory TB testing on culled deer must be made a priority,” the chairperson added.

“There is no doubt that these farmers have felt abandoned in recent years as the deer multiplied.”

ICSA Wicklow chairman Tom Stephenson also commented, adding: “Regrettably, there is no funding provided for professional shooters to assist with the deer management process.

Deer numbers have risen to completely unmanageable levels and leisure shooters cannot possibly deliver an adequate impact.

The project

Set to run for three years, the jointly funded project has been designed to “enable rapid local level capacity building and cooperation in relation to long-term management of deer populations” in the county.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture outlined that “unsustainable deer populations” have the potential to impact adversely on agriculture, conservation and forestry objectives – as well as road safety.

Issues related to high deer populations frequently arise in Co. Wicklow, and are increasingly of concern to a range of land managers and conservationists in the county, the department added.