I propose to take Questions Nos. 142, 143 and 147 together.
Deer are culled by the staff of Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, in Killarney National Park according to the needs of the herd and the requirements of other habitats in the park covered by the EU Habitats Directive. The deer populations on the mountains and on the lowlands are continually monitored and the cull numbers are based on the results of this work. The latest deer census figures in Killarney National Park are as follows: Red–Uplands, 500-700; Red–Lowlands, 300-400; Sika Population, 700-800.
The numbers of red deer culled in Killarney National Park during the years 1995-00 are as follows: 1995-96, 3; 1996-97, 20; 1997-98, 43; 1998-99, 45; 1999-2000; 42; Total, 153.
I understand that 17 red deer have been culled to date this year in Knockreer and in the Muckross Peninsula.
The two oval embankments referred to in Question No. 147 facilitate the live capture of deer within the Muckross Peninsula. Deer control has been carried out in Killarney National Park for almost 30 years. The traditional method of controlling deer populations was the use of firearms but due to the closeness of the deer to areas of human habitation enclosures are now used which are considered more effective as the deer captured in the enclosures can be humanely destroyed or transported live to an alternative location. Research in this area is carried out on an ongoing basis by qualified Dúchas staff. These enclosures represent the implementation of known control technologies in keeping with the behaviour of the animals and their environment. Planning permission was not required for the provision of the enclosures in question.
The regional staff of Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, are available to meet with the Deer Society and the Killarney Nature Conservation Group to discuss any matters of concern to them. I understand that no such meeting was requested in relation to the deer enclosures.