Thursday, 12 November 2015
The cull is part of the ongoing management of deer populations in Killarney National Park and deer numbers may need to be reduced every year. The proposed cull is no different from what has taken place in previous years. Sika deer numbers in the park are not out of control and are at much lower densities than can be found Wicklow National Park. As I stated, the National Parks and Wildlife Service would like to further reduce deer numbers because lowland numbers have increased and the deer have become highly visible.
On the ongoing management of the deer population, the intention of any cull would be to focus on the red deer populations in Muckross and Knockreer in the first instance. I will clarify the details of the spot counts carried out by park rangers for the Deputy at a later stage if he does not mind.
A number of experts have concluded that a cull is required. Research completed and published in 2012 by Dr. Ruth Carden, an associate of the National Museum of Ireland and the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, highlighted that the native County Kerry red deer herd suffered from low genetic diversity. Dr. Carden outlined in the findings of a four-year research programme by scientists that the herd at Killarney National Park needed to number between 600 and 1,000 animals to be sustainable; otherwise, its health would be at risk from disease and weakening associated with in-breeding. According to a recent statement from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the service estimates the number of red deer in Killarney National Park to be approximately 500. Culls of older red deer are carried out to improve the herd. That is the current position.