Statement on the Killarney National Park Deer Cull
The management and culling of wildlife can be an emotive topic, in particular, the iconic Red Deer of Killarney National Park whose bloodlines go back over 5,000 years. The herd is a major tourist attraction for Co Kerry and of national conservation importance.
However, in recent years the deer population has increased significantly mainly due to a lack of resources to manage the herd, this population increase has resulted in severe damage to the Park’s ecosystem with little or no regeneration in areas of the Park. The current culling programme and commitment of resources by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is to be welcomed.
As with all deer management, animal welfare and best practice should be at its core. Up to 2009 the Parks deer herd was managed on a selective, gradual and ongoing basis by local Park staff. The current approach of mass culling over a short period of time and culling deer into the month of March has raised some concerns but we are confident the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will ensure they follow best practice and animal welfare standards in managing the herd.
The move from night-time culling to day-time culling and making future culling dates known is a move from the norm, and can open this necessary work to additional public scrutiny and criticism.
Suggestions of relocation or contraception are not realistic or relevant to the management of free roaming wild deer in Co Kerry for multiple reasons.
The Irish Deer Commission work closely with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and host a joint rut watch event annually in Killarney National Park.