Wicklow Uplands Council has today published the final report emanating from the conclusion of the Wicklow Deer Management Project. The collaborative project, which operated from 2018 to 2022, was funded through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and managed jointly by Wicklow Uplands Council and the Wicklow Deer Management Partnership.
While estimates of the size of the deer population in Wicklow vary considerably, it is accepted that the county has the highest deer population density in the country. This high population density can result in a range of adverse impacts including damage to conservation habitats and biodiversity; economic losses to farmland & forestry; and animal welfare concerns due to the spread of disease and the increasing reports of road traffic collisions.
The principal aim of the Wicklow Deer Management Project was the establishment of a number of Deer Management Units (DMUs) across the county – A DMU being defined as an area of land where landowners, hunters and other interested parties come together to manage deer in a sustainable and agreed manner in an effort to reduce adverse impacts. The report outlines that five DMU’s were initiated, two in west Wicklow, one in east Wicklow and two in the south of the county.
Project Manager, Pat Mellon, said ‘the collection of accurate cull data was critical to understanding the level of deer management activity in the DMUs and monitor their progress. In that regard, the open sharing of information between landowner and hunter is vital for the delivery of any sustainable deer management programme’. He continued, ‘sustainable deer management requires a professional approach including an increased emphasis on the culling of female deer to better manage the breeding population’.
The report also details a number of initiatives carried out under the auspices of the project including field tests which recorded potential grassland yield losses due to grazing impact and a TB testing pilot which identified the presence of TB in deer in an area of West Wicklow.
Coordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council, Brian Dunne, added ‘The project tested a successful framework for bringing together the various parties required to form an effective DMU. There is now a need for a longer-term, well-resourced and collaborative sustainable deer management programme in Wicklow’
The report is now available for download at: