Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment at Killaloe District Court after a Co Roscommon man pleaded guilty to hunting deer without a licence near the Co Clare village of Scarriff on January 21 last.
Brian Dolan, a 42-year-old father of three of Cloonslanor, Strokestown, admitted shooting a male fallow deer at Gortnaderra.
Judge Durcan said Mr Dolan is a decent man, had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity “and I am not going to criminalise him over this. He has done all the right things.”
Instead, Judge Durcan ordered that Mr Dolan pay €100 to the court discretionary fund or poor box and that would be the end of the matter.
Solicitor for Brian Dolan, James Nash, said there was “an epidemic of deer” in east Clare and that his client was only 21 days outside the permitted season for shooting deer which goes from September 1 to December 31.
Judge Durcan said that if the man was not three weeks late shooting the deer, he would not be guilty.
At the court sitting at O’Donovan’s bar in Ballina, Judge Durcan said “certain roads in this country are a danger because deer are quite capable of jumping into your pathway”.
Judge Durcan said that of roads linking Ballinrobe to Tuam “there is a huge danger at this time of year along that entire road of deer jumping into your path and onto the bonnet of your car”.
He said that this is the case “because the state agency, the wildlife service really don’t take adequate steps to undertake adequate culling or interact with sporting organisation to make sure that adequate culling takes place”.
“Culling of deer is not properly looked after by the State,” he said.
Inspector Tom Kennedy said deer “are very plentiful in east Clare as well and create havoc for farmers by eating all around them”.
However, Insp Kennedy said that people traversing parts of east Clare in large jeeps late at night shooting deer “creates a huge anxiety to the local communities”.
Giving details about the case, Insp Kennedy said locals heard shots fired at Gortnaderra at around 10.30pm on January 21. He said Garda Hilda Moloney stopped a jeep with four occupants.
He said that she was led to believe they were shooting foxes but then she saw the remains of the deer in the back of the jeep.
Insp Kennedy said Mr Dolan admitted that he shot the deer and to his credit was very co-operative.
Insp Kennedy said Mr Dolan had a license for his gun but no licence to shoot deer at that time of year.
The inspector agreed with Mr Nash that Mr Dolan “was absolutely forthright, gentlemanly and honourable on the night”.