3,679 culled in Waterford in one year

“Significant travel safety issues” caused by the deer population in the vicinity of Colligan, involving crossings of the main Dungarvan–Clonmel road, have been highlighted by Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, in reply to a Dáil question, told Deputy Cullinane the management of public regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of Waterford City and County Council, who had not raised the issue with his Department.

“The Council will be aware that the Traffic Signs Manual includes provision for warning signs indicating the possibility of animals on the road, including deer,” the minister said, adding that it is open to them to put up signage at this location.

The question was tabled just as the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) released data to the Irish Deer Commission which shows that a total of 3,679 wild deer were culled in Waterford in the 12 months to the end of February 2022.

Nationally, a record of over 55,000 wild deer were culled in this period and over 200,000 were killed under licence in the last five years for which data is available.

Deer Commission spokesperson Damien Hannigan is quoted as saying “the actual deer cull is likely to be significantly higher” as the total does not include wild deer killed illegally through poaching, “nor the growing number of deer killed on our roads.”

He said the Commission “actively work with landowners who suffer negative impacts from wild deer, we also support the various agencies who deal with an increasing number of deer vehicle collisions on our roads through a network of trained members.”

The Commission, which is made up of hunters and conservationists, attributes the rise in deer numbers to management restrictions during Covid, a worldwide crash in venison prices, delays in the issuing of culling permits, poor forestry design, and a rapid expansion of afforestation. They have noted a distinct rise in “anti-deer sentiment.”

Culls are allowed during the open season from the start of September to the end of February. Deer hunters must make an annual declaration about the animals they’ve killed to the NPWS. Best practice is to kill more females.

Just over a year ago, some west Waterford councillors called for a cull of the county’s deer population due to concerns about potential road accidents.

The District Conservation Officer at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has previously recommended “a more prominent/different type of sign than the standard ‘leaping deer’ in areas of high deer density to alert motorists to their presence.”

Jamie O’Keeffe