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Deer cull plan ‘absolutely flawed’

The plan to reduce Ireland’s deer herd is “absolutely flawed”, Public Relations Officer of the Irish Deer Society Neil Forde has said.

Culling male deer will not reduce a herd, he added.

Open season on deer hunting was extended last week for another month on female and young deer, and for a further three months on male deer.

Announcing the extension, Minister of State for Nature Malcolm Noonan said overgrazing by deer has become a serious pressure for native woodlands and for peatland habitats.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said the wild deer population is having a significant impact on farmers.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Forde said: “The current plan is absolutely flawed … the entire hunting community seems to be up in arms over it at this stage, which is quite right.

“You will not reduce numbers by reducing males, any farmer involved with livestock knows that if he wants to increase his herd, he increases the number of females. If he wants to decrease his herd, he decreases the number of females.

“The current management model, a very rough model for managing deer, is for every one male deer shot, you should take out ten females. The opposite if anything is true.

“We are shooting somewhere in the region of eight males and for every one female. Now the herd is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and we have examples in other countries on the Vancouver Islands, for instance, there is an open season on fallow, and the fallow deer herd is increasing.

“This broad ‘kill everything’ management does not work.”

Deer are overgrazing on silage, especially spring grass, Mr Forde said.

“They are causing a lot of problems for farmers in certain areas, but they are certainly not widespread, yet.

“But if we keep putting pressure on them, which this particular move will do, we will see deer spreading further into areas because that’s what happens.

“The deer themselves become pressurised in one area and they’ll move into an area where they’re not pressurised and you will see deer spreading.”

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