Animal rights campaigners have criticised the culling of deer in one of Ireland’s best known public parks.
A total of 34 deer were shot dead in Dublin’s Phoenix Park today following orders by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
The Alliance for Animal Rights (AFAR), however, accused the government of farming deer to make money.
“A humane alternative of contraception works on deer but is not used by the OPW as the killing alternative is more lucrative for their coffers,” a spokeswoman said.
“Shooters are devoid of any empathy for innocent, undefended animals.
“Shooting deer in view of other deer is barbaric, all animals experience fear at seeing their friends killed.”
They called for the government to establish an alternative, humane way of tackling the issue of culling deer.
A total of 34 deer were shot dead in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Wednesday following orders by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
It is understood the carcasses are then sold on to meat suppliers.
The spokeswoman for AFAR added: “No animal is safe from human greed, an alternative exists here. With the growing opposition to violence towards animals, this policy of profit before respect must be stopped.
“AFAR are launching a campaign to stop this sad and unnecessary murder of innocents.”
A spokeswoman for the OPW said the deer cull was carried out as part of the “sustainable management” of the wild deer herd.
The spokeswoman added: “The role of the wild fallow deer herd in the Phoenix Park as a valuable component of biodiversity must be recognised.
“However, this must be balanced with an equal recognition of the potential for deer to impact adversely on a range of other biodiversity values, particularly where other conservation habitats and their dependent species are concerned.
“Sustainable deer management must rely on sound, practical and applied scientific research, and any deer management policy must be cognisant of its application to practical deer management on the ground.
“An over-abundant deer population can result in an increasing incidence of road traffic accidents and increase the potential role of deer in the epidemiology of specific diseases.
“Deer management is most simply defined as the integrated management of deer populations in balance with the carrying capacity and land use objectives of land where deer exist.”
It said that deer culling in the Phoenix Park is carried out according to a “detailed protocol”.
The spokeswoman added: “Each cull is undertaken in consultation with the School of Biology and Environmental Science in University College Dublin and a vet expert in deer welfare.”
Teams in Dublin's Phoenix Park have culled 34 deer this afternoon.
The Office of Public Works says it needs to keep numbers of the animals down to lower the risk of disease and road accidents in the park.
However last February, the National Animal Rights Association said such cullings were a money-making scheme.
It was revealed that more than 200 deer were shot by a sniper two years, with the carcasses sold to a meat supplier for almost €20,000.
Images from today's cull show a number of men with rifles and deer in the foreground.
Other pictures show two men removing what appears to be dead deer from the park.
The established herd of 400 to 450 fallow deer descend from the original herd, which was introduced in the 1660s.
The fallow deer was directly responsible for the development of the park.
A large herd of the deer still remains to this day, thought to number around 500 at any given time.
The carcasses from today's cull have been sold to a game dealer approved by the Department of Agriculture.