Hunt ban on female red deer in Kerry
THE HUNTING of female red deer in Co Kerry is to be banned by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan
The open season for hunting begins in just over a week, and the ban coming into force at the beginning is because of “a significant” decline in numbers of the special deer, the Minister said yesterday.
He has also put a stop to the hunting of the curlew because of a similar “dramatic ” plummeting in numbers here and across Europe.
The move to protect the red deer comes amid growing concern about the future of the “unique” Kerry red deer herd, Ireland’s oldest strain of red deer.
The hunting of the male of the species – prized by poachers for their 16-point antlers – has long been banned.
The deer herd is concentrated in and around the 10,000-hectare Killarney National Park, but has dropped to just 500, Noel Grimes, chairman of the Kerry Deer Society, which saved the Killarney reds from extinction in the 1970s, revealed this summer.
To be sustainable the herd needed to be up to double this, according to the findings of four years of research presented in Killarney at the weekend. Threats from in-breeding and the danger of mating with other species were also outlined.
The Killarney herd needed to number “between 600 to 1,000” to be sustainable. Otherwise the herd’s health was at risk from diseases and weakening associated with in-breeding, Dr Ruth Carden, an associate of the National Museum of Ireland, outlined in the findings of the four-year research programme by scientists.
She said the Killarney reds were undoubtedly from the original of the species introduced by Neolithic man. A deer management plan to balance ecology with an increase in numbers to protect the “cultural and genetically” valuable herd would be needed.