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Deer cost Animal rights group say contraception would be 'kinder' after 95 deer shot in annual Phoenix Park cull

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has said that to keep the park’s deer population at a sustainable size of between 500 and 600 animals, it is necessary to cull the numbers.

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Deer at Phoenix Park

Deer at Phoenix Park

Deer at Phoenix Park

An animal rights group has said contraception would be a “kinder and more humane option” than shooting deer in front of their offspring in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

It has emerged that nearly 100 animals were shot dead in the park last year as part of the annual cull.

According to Freedom of Information figures released to Newstalk, the animals were killed over four days in January and November.

A total of 95 deer were killed last year and 74 were killed the year before.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has said that to keep the park’s deer population at a sustainable size of between 500 and 600 animals, it is necessary to cull the numbers.

Otherwise, the OPW points out, the park will not be able to produce enough food to sustain the herd and this could lead to “welfare issues such as low body fat, malnutrition and high incidences of deaths from exposure during cold winters".

It said rising herd numbers would also lead to a “build-up of parasites and other pathogens causing disease to spread rapidly” while also having an effect on the other flora and fauna in the park.

But Alliance for Animal Rights spokesperson Bernie Wright said she disapproved of the killing of deer “because there are options and it doesn’t have to happen”.

“Like America, we could change over to contraceptives for the deer because the numbers seem to the problem,” she told Newstalk. “Maybe some could be relocated.”

While contraceptives would have to be imported from the US, she still believes it to be a “far kinder and more humane option than shooting these animals in front of their offspring in the park.”

The Government body said there are currently no suitable contraceptives licensed for use in wild Irish deer – and insisted that contraceptives are also difficult to monitor.

According to the Phoenix Park's website, deer have lived in the park since 1662 and the deer we see today are the descendants of the original deer brought over 350 years ago.

Last month visitors to the park were reminded to keep away from the deer after one woman got a “fair whack” in the jaw while attempting to feed one.

Amy Murphy had a “lucky escape” and walked away with just a swollen jaw after a deer attacked her.

Speaking of her ordeal, she told Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live: “There were crowds of people, families with children feeding the deer.

“We went over, was feeding them the carrots, and one in particular would not move away.

“I went to take the carrot out of the bag, and next of all his antlers came to the side of me and hit me straight in the jaw.

“I didn’t feel the pain straight away because it was so cold out, but when I got home the shock hit me. I have no bruising or anything, but it was very sore after.’

A notice on the Phoenix Park website reads: “Deer are naturally very timid animals but in the Phoenix Park they are losing their fear of humans due to being fed by them.

“When they see someone standing with food in their hand they now sometimes approach, and this can be dangerous,” it continues.

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