Deer Commission warns against mass cull after stag attack on woman in Kerry

A local woman was airlifted to hospital after an attack by the animal not far from her home. She was left with injuries to her chest and ribs
Deer Commission warns against mass cull after stag attack on woman in Kerry

Red deer, associated with Killarney National Park, are now found outside the park and throughout south Kerry.

The red stag at the centre of the attack on a middle-aged woman in Glencar in Co Kerry had lost its fear of humans, locals believe.

The incident led to calls for culls of the deer population, but the leading deer management body has said there is already a plan in place and has cautioned against linking what they said was a rare attack to population increase.

The Glencar stag had become a familiar figure in the area. For much of the winter, he was around Lough Acoose Lake but had moved closer to houses, in the Glencuttane area, not far from Killorglin, most likely in search of food.

Sources suggest he was being regularly fed and was often found in and around residences as well as on the road.

A local woman was airlifted to hospital after an attack by the animal not far from her home. She was left with injuries to her chest and ribs.

The stag had antlers with up to six points and may have weighed up to 180kg. He was put down by a licensed hunter shortly after the attack on Saturday afternoon.

The unique red deer, Ireland’s largest mammal, associated with Killarney National Park and almost extinct just 50 years ago, are now found outside the park and throughout south Kerry. However, red deer are far less common around Glencar, which has a large population of the smaller, non-native Sika deer.

Calls for culls

There have been calls for culls in the wake of the attack, with local TD Michael Healy-Rae leading the charge. The TD's car and those of his family and neighbours' cars have been damaged in collisions with deer over the past 12 months, he said.

Mr Healy-Rae said culls up to now have been “tokenism”.

“We need a serious cull. I am talking about 70% of both deer species,” he said.

However the Irish Deer Commission (IDC) has warned there is no deer census in any county and no one knows if the deer population is actually increasing or decreasing.

“Based on National Park and Wildlife Service data, over 8,000 wild deer have been culled in Kerry over the last five years, so there is already significant deer management taking place,” spokesman Damien Hannigan said.

However, local areas where high deer densities occur should be supported when required to protect the various land uses, he said.

The IDC has warned the public to keep a minimum distance from wild deer of 50m and under no circumstances to feed them. Deer lose their fear of humans when fed, Mr Hannigan said.

Meanwhile, gardaí in Macroom in Cork are warning drivers to be aware of wild deer which have been reported to be wandering onto the N22 road at Lissarda, Ballyvourney, and at the county bounds between Cork and Kerry.

Gardaí are reporting traffic accidents as a result of these wild deers and a number of near-misses.

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