We should "put down the bloody guns" when it comes to managing the deer population in Dublin's Phoenix Park, an animal rights activist has said.
It comes after 34 deer - 22 females and 12 males - were culled in the park earlier this week.
The OPW says the managed cull took place on Tuesday to keep the deer population under control, with a sustainable herd size of between 500 and 600 animals.
Such culls happen regularly, with nearly 100 deer shot dead in 2020.
Animal rights campaigners are calling for alternative options to be examined, such as contraceptives or moving the animals to a bigger space.
John Carmody from Animal Rights Action Network told Lunchtime Live there are more humane solutions, such as neutering some of the animals.
He said: “Today, [the cull is] just a glorified hunt.
“We’re bussing lots of tourists up to Phoenix Park - it’s a beautiful park that’s talked about all over Europe. But the one thing we don’t tell people is we’re gunning down these animals.
“If we think there’s a problem, we should put down those bloody guns.
“We’ve advanced beyond this kill, kill, kill mindset. I wish to God we could all come together at the table and come up with a kinder solution."
John suggested he'd like to see President Michael D Higgins intervene in the debate, based on his history of supporting animal rights.
“It’s not a bad thing at all"
Éanna Ní Lamhna - Biologist and Environmental Consultant - believes a cull is the only approach if we want to keep a herd of deer in the park.
She observed: “It’s not a bad thing at all, when you consider if they weren’t culled they’d be killed by cars and have a horrible death.
“What they should be asking, I suppose, is is it a good idea to have a herd of deer in Phoenix Park?
“They’ve been there for hundreds of years… but it’s an enclosed area. There are no wolves… there are no enemies.
“The males all fight… and the winner takes all. There’s one male mate for all the females… then next year if you have to have a different stag or there’ll be inbreeding. This sort of management has to happen.
“If you don’t take any action, you’re going to have more and more of them each year… then it will become a ridiculous situation.”
In a statement, the OPW said there’d be other welfare issues without population control - such as low body fat and high incidence of death from exposure to cold in the winter.
They say the deer population is therefore managed to try to keep the herd at a more sustainable size.