A species of deer associated with Killarney National Park could be reclassified as an invasive alien species.
That’s according to the Irish Deer Commission which says if sika deer are classed as invasive species then they could be shot all year round.
At present, sika deer, which were introduced to Ireland from Japan in the 1860s, can only be culled from September to February. (Stags from September to December; females and anterless deer from November to February.)
The commission’s spokesperson Damien Hannigan says an EU scientific forum is considering whether to make the change as the species is spreading throughout Europe.
Damien Hannigan is calling on the minister with responsibility for deer Malcolm Noonan to seek a derogation if Sika deer are reclassified as alien species.
He says excessive deer numbers have negative impacts on forestry, farming and the ecosystem.
But he argues such a reclassification would scapegoat the sika deer and set it apart from other herbivores.
Mr Hannigan says there are also ethical concerns.
He says if sika can be killed all year round, calves would be left vulnerable.