You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried..
On March 28th of this year, Richard Downes of RTE radio show Morning Ireland interviewed Councillor Colm Wiley (FF) of Clare County Council. Here is the interview (go down to “Deer causing havoc in Co Clare”. You’ll need RealPlayer), and here is the transcript…
Richard Downes: Next to County Clare and a problem with deer. Councillor Colm Wiley is on the line to tell us more about this. You’ve got a problem with deer in County Clare, is that right?
Colm Wiley: Yes, good morning Richard. Yes, we have a serious problem. Deer have become numerous. Years ago they were a very rare sight to see one deer but now you can see up to as many as ten, fifteen, up to twenty, grazing on the land of farmers, and they’re doing terrible damage, utter damage of course, apart from the fact they’re eating the grass, they are also driving the cattle berserk and they’re coming out onto the roadways and they’re causing accidents to motorists and everything at night time.
Richard Downes: And you want them shot.
Colm Wiley: Yeah, we want them culled some way, and er, there are rangers there to do the job but they are so numerous they wouldn’t be able to come and get on top of them so I requested that the army come and be of assistance to us, but Minister O’Dea seemingly feels that they have more to do than coming out to help the people of rural Ireland and that is the fact.
Richard Downes: But I think the Defense Minister, Willie O’Dea said that the army actually had better things to do than going around the country, em, shooting deer. You can kind of see his point, can’t you?
Colm Wiley: I can but, what, what are they doing? The only thing I see of them going around the country is minding the money being transported to banks, other than..
Richard Downes: A couple of missions in West Africa don’t they, and in Central Europe, so they are actually very busy and stretched. So, the deer problem is so significant, you say down in County Clare, that this is the only option that you have, is it?
Colm Wiley: That is the only option we have because they graze at night time and early in the mornings and it’s not the easiest of things to do to shoot them, but you can get within a hundred metres of them. One time you wouldn’t get within four hundred metres of deer, but it’s come around they are a bit more domesticated and one can get within a hundred metres of them and you know, it’s possible to cull them, and we need assistance.
Richard Downes: And who owns the deer?
Colm Wiley: Who owns? Sure, the deer are wild. They live in the forestry and, in actual fact, they are doing damage to the forestation too because they are eating the barks of the trees, but then of course the grass is more palatable for them so they will come out and it’s well known that fourteen or fifteen deer – I was with a farmer last night over in Tulla and he explained to me that fifteen deer would eat more grass than twenty cattle, and you know, it is very serious.
Richard Downes: We have our own native species – the Red Deer – very small numbers of those.
Colm Wiley: Yeah the Red Deer, and the Fallow, yes it’s mainly Red Deer now we have here. Mainly Red. But of course again you might have a bit of crossing between Red and Fallow, but it’s mainly the Red ones. And, you see twenty, fifteen, sixteen of them, and we have a lot of forestation in Clare and they tend to shelter in the woods and come out then to eat and go back in again.
Richard Downes: Yeah – you were – er, am I, am I reading this correctly – are you worried about them interbreeding with cattle?
Colm Wiley: Yes. It’s possible that sooner or later, because in County Clare, most of our agricultural industry is related to the suckling industry, so people have cows and heifers way out in the fields, way out away from houses and its very possible that, at the end of the day, stags could come in contact with them. They are, stags are grazing with them, they are in mingling in between them every day and every night so it’s very possible that you could have interbreeding and if they did..
Richard Downes: Have you ever come across a case of interbreeding between cows and deer?
Colm Wiley: Well no, but I have seen some red weanlings and I thought myself there was a little bit of a strain in them so, they seemed to be very alert, so it’s very possible that if this comes in to being we could have seriously alert animals altogether.
Richard Downes: (laughing) Ok we’ll leave it there, Councillor Colm Wiley, thank you very much..