Written Answers. - Deer Culling.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

141 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands if a culling licence for culled red deer has been issued under section 42 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, to a private individual who is not an employee of Dúchas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10309/00]

In 1999 12 licences to control red deer were issued to individuals other than Dúchas employees under section 42 of the Wildlife Act.

Section 42 provides that where protected wild animals or birds are causing damage to other flora and fauna, or to livestock, poultry, agricultural crops or fisheries, the owner or occupier of the land may on application to the Minister seek permission to take appropriate steps to stop the damage. Each application is then examined on its merits prior to a decision being made to grant or refuse the licence.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

142 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the number of red deer culled in the Killarney National Park in the past five years; the number of red deer culled in Knockreer and the Muckross peninsula in 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10310/00]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

143 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands her Department's policy on the culling of deer, both red and sika, in the Killarney National Park; the latest census figures for the red and sika deer populations in the lowlands and the uplands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10311/00]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

147 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the reason two large maze-like structures have been developed in the west meadow area of the Muckross-Dinis Peninsula of the Killarney National Park; the research conducted by the appropriate authorities before the mazes were constructed; the reason no consultation took place between officials of her Department with the deer society or the local nature conservation group regarding structures; whether planning permission was necessary for this development; the plans Dúchas has to deal with the deer captured in these structures; whether this was the object of these mazes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10318/00]

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.