THE number of deer culled in Killarney National Park last year was in excess of 120, it has been confirmed.
That represented a significant increase on the three previous years when the number shot averaged in the mid 40s.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said the cull was necessary to ensure herd numbers didn’t get completely out of hand, which could cause public safety fears and threaten the ecology of the park. It was necessary to protect woodland and other habitats.
This time last year, Dr Tim Burkett, a conservation ranger specialising in deer management, voiced concern when he noticed evidence of bark stripping on trees on Mission Road, close to the town centre. He said it was not unreasonable to suggest that deer would soon make their way on to the main streets.
Photographs later emerged showing deer grazing immediately outside the gates of St Mary’s Cathedral in the early hours of the morning.
The problem of wandering deer was also highlighted last year by Cllr John Joe Culloty who said a proper management plan was needed urgently.
“This is a very serious situation as it is threatening the whole ecology of the national park. Lives are being put at risk every day and I have spoken to several people who have had near misses when driving past the park,” he stressed.
Last March Cllr Culloty told of a gruesome sight he discovered on a visit to a popular tourist attraction on Innisfallen Island where he found four dead and rotting Sika deer with other starving, emaciated animals wandering around with no fodder in sight.
Cllr Culloty noticed that all the bark had been stripped off trees in a desperate hunt for fodder with the whole ecology of the history-steeped island at immediate risk.
The problem of deer wandering out in front of oncoming traffic in areas like Ballydowney, Fossa, Muckross, Glenflesk and Kilgarvan, leading to numerous crashes, has also been raised repeatedly at local and national political level.
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