Google+ Followers

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Shooting of Killarney red deer to be restricted

Moves are under way by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to tighten up the permit system which allows farmers to shoot Killarney red deer.

The Wild Deer Association of Ireland, which is concerned with deer management, as well as conservation, is concerned at the number of permits issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2016. The section 42 permits, which the department says are only issued to farmers whose crops and lands are “seriously” worried by deer, have almost doubled, yet no census of the deer population has been completed, the association say.

The tightening of regulations comes after claims in December that licences to shoot the red stags are ending up in the hands of American hunter tourists for “substantial sums”.

One US hunter tourist staying in Kenmare last October paid €5,000 for a permit and guide to a commercial company, to shoot “a Kerry mountain stag” on private land near the Killarney National Park, it was claimed. Now, strict notification about when and where the highly prized red stags and hinds are to be culled are attached to the granting of permits to landowners whose crops are being damaged.

Thirteen permits for Section 42 of the Wildlife Act were issued in 2016 to farmers in Kerry to shoot the deer or have them shot by a hunter. It will now be mandatory for the hunter or farmer to notify National Park management in Killarney when and where the animal is to be culled. They must also let wildlife rangers inspect the carcass so trophy hunters are discouraged.

However, the Wild Deer association also wants further restrictions, including that the culling of red deer should be carried out by wildlife rangers, rather than by commercial hunters. They are also looking for a complete prohibition on the shooting of Killarney red stags and want the Section 42 permits confined to hinds.

The Killarney deer is a unique subspecies at least 6,000 years old. It was brought back from the brink of extinction 50 years ago when numbers had fallen to about 60. Numbers are now estimated at 600 to 700.

Anne Lucey