Hundreds of deer lost feeding grounds in Killarney wildfires

Hundreds of deer lost feeding grounds in Killarney wildfires

A hind Sika deer with her family standing near the entrance of Glaisín na Marbh and the Eagles Nest, along the River Laune, in the aftermath of the blaze. Picture: Valerie O'Sullivan

Hundreds of deer have lost their feeding grounds in the wildfires that swept through Killarney National Park. 


Check out our Sustainability and Climate Change Hub where you will find the latest news, features, opinions and analysis on this topic from across the various Irish Examiner topic desks and their team of specialist writers and columnists.

The Irish Deer Commission (IDC) has said the displacement is set to bring them into conflict with motorists and farmers, but are warning against calls for severe culls.

The cause of the blaze, which destroyed up to 3,000 hectares of heath and mountain, is still under investigation, with gardaí saying they are keeping an open mind. 

They have issued an appeal for information and a Garda inspector has been assigned to lead the investigation. 

Both red and sika deer have lost “a vast” feeding ground in the fires that saw thousands of acres of the Killarney National Park burn, the IDC added.

The basic requirements for deer — food, shelter, peace and quiet — have all been taken, spokesman for the IDC, Damien Hannigan, said.

Hundreds of deer, many pregnant, have been affected, foxes were seen running from burnt grounds and the homes of nesting birds have been destroyed 

“The deer were fortunate in one way — if this was a few weeks later, the young would have been hidden in the vegetation, as normally female deer hide their newborn in vegetation when feeding, and such a severe fire would have resulted in high mortality levels,” Mr Hannigan said.

The habitat of the cuckoo eggs — marsh and heathland nests — has been largely destroyed. The cuckoo has just arrived in Killarney last week.

Climate change

Meanwhile, an environmental group says climate change has provided an environment that enables small fires to grow out of control, often causing mass destruction.

Lyndsey O’Connell, a spokeswoman for environmental organisation Voice, said climate change “directly impacts” whether or not these fires can take off.

“Rising temperatures means there’s less precipitation, so there’s not as much rainfall, the ground is becoming more dry and more barren and thus more susceptible to fires being started and spreading, unfortunately,” she said.

We understand the knock-on effects of the rising temperatures on the planet and this would be a consequence of it.

"So if we all do our best to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon emissions then we are stopping the rising temperatures and mitigating the impacts in the future.” 

Ms O’Connell said wildfires are not a new issue, but the frequency and extent of the fires have increased in recent years.

The way in which they are sometimes started is also a consequence of climate change, she added.

“What we’d like to educate people on is not bringing gas to these areas, not starting campfires or being really safe when they do so,” she said.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd