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Oh Deer Animal rights campaigners angered as 34 Phoenix Park deer shot in 'managed cull'

Animal rights campaigners are not happy branding it a 'glorified hunt'

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Deer at Phoenix Park

Deer at Phoenix Park

Deer at Phoenix Park

A total of 34 deer - 22 females and 12 males – were shot and killed in the Phoenix Park earlier this week as part of a managed cull.

The Office of Public Works have said that the cull took place on Tuesday in order to keep the deer population under control. Culls happen often in order to keep the herd at a sustainable size, with almost 100 deer shot in 2020.

This morning, Animal rights campaigner John Carmody spoke to Newstalk and branded the killings as a “glorified hunt.”

“Today [the cull is] just a glorified hunt.”

“We’re bussing lots of tourists up to Phoenix Park - it’s a beautiful park that’s talked about all over Europe. But the one thing we don’t tell people is we’re gunning down these animals,” he said.

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Deer in Dublin’s Phoenix park (Brian Lawless/PA)

Deer in Dublin’s Phoenix park (Brian Lawless/PA)

Deer in Dublin’s Phoenix park (Brian Lawless/PA)

“If we think there’s a problem, we should put down those bloody guns,” he urged.

“We’ve advanced beyond this kill, kill, kill mindset. I wish to God we could all come together at the table and come up with a kinder solution."

John, who is part of Animal Rights Action Network wants alternative options, such as contraceptives or moving the animals to a bigger space, to be considered.

Meanwhile, Éanna Ní Lamhna, a Biologist and Environmental Consultant affirmed her belief that a cull is the only approach to keep a herd of deer in the park.

“It’s not a bad thing at all, when you consider if they weren’t culled they’d be killed by cars and have a horrible death,” she said.

“What they should be asking, I suppose, is ‘is it a good idea to have a herd of deer in Phoenix Park’?

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“They’ve been there for hundreds of years, but it’s an enclosed area. There are no wolves, there are no enemies. The males all fight and the winner takes all. There’s one male mate for all the females then next year you have to have a different stag or there’ll be inbreeding.”

“This sort of management has to happen,” she argued.

“If you don’t take any action, you’re going to have more and more of them each year… then it will become a ridiculous situation.”

In a statement to the Sunday World, the OPW said: “If animals were not removed, food would become scarce and more animals would ultimately suffer. Without population control, there would be other welfare issues such as low body fat, malnutrition and high incidence of death from exposure to cold in winter. Attempting to maintain too many deer within a restricted park area would soon lead to a build-up of parasites and other pathogens causing disease in the deer.”

When asked if there were plans to change the method for controlling the population they said that while number of alternative methods for deer population control have been suggested, all have different reasons why they are not suitable in the Phoenix Park.

“There are no contraceptives licensed for use in wild deer in Ireland. Contraception is also difficult to monitor - which females have received contraception and if they are receiving a sufficient dose.

"There may also be a negative effect if the contraceptive drug is leeched into the environment or ingested by males (causing adverse effects on antler growth and shedding) or by other animals.”

Regarding castrating males, the OPW said that one male can father many offspring so therefore may reduce the number of fawns being born.

They have also said that moving the deer is a no-go solution. “Rounding up the deer can be a very stressful experience for the animal. Confining them in an enclosed space can also lead to injury or death. It is illegal in Ireland to release any deer even if they are being relocated. Finally, moving the deer to a new location simply moves the problem elsewhere.”

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