The reintroduction of wolves would be a “natural solution” to Ireland’s deer overpopulation problem.
Yesterday, Kerry TD Danny Healy urged the Government to organise a ‘serious cull’ of Kerry’s deer population to improve road safety in his constituency.
It is a call the Association of Hunt Saboteurs strongly opposes and campaigns director John Tierney described culling as something that “simply doesn’t work”.
“We need long-term management of the deer population and there’s no way the hunting community has a role in that,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We must remember that deer culling is just a wrapper around people enjoying killing deer for recreation.”
Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has previously said the reintroduction of the wolf would help control the deer population and have a positive impact on Irish biodiversity.
Deer love to nibble away at flora and woodland saplings, meaning if the population is too large, they can do significant damage to the local environment.
Like the Green Party leader, Mr Tierney believes the return of apex predators would help with the problem.
“[Wolves] would be the natural solution,” he said.
“But unfortunately, Ireland is not that advanced when it comes to animal conservation - we’re a couple of generations behind.
“We permit some of the worst criminality to wildlife in this country; God knows what they would do to the wolf.
“But definitely, the only solution here is natural, not the gun.”
Unless and until the wolf returns to Ireland, Mr Tierney said there are things authorities could do to make roads safer in the meantime.
“[They should] identify the roads where issues are occurring with deer,” he said.
“Look at the situation and see what measures can be put in place… Some of the measures that could be put in place could be more signage, a reduced speed limit or even tunnels going under the road to allow deer to cross from one side to the other.”
The last wild wolf in Ireland was sighted in 1786; extinction came about following centuries of persecution and loss of the forest habitats they depended on.
Main image: European grey wolves feeding on a fallow deer. Picture by: Alamy.com