A Kildare farmer who found the remains of a butchered deer carcase on his farm at the weekend is fearful that the incident could have implications for TB in his suckler herd.
The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous, discovered the head, hide and other remnants of a young stag's carcase strewn across the gateway and bushes on his farm close to Moone, Co Kildare.
“I found several lambs stuck in bushes and two were missing for a number of hours before I located them,” the farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“The sheep were obviously frightened by what happened and I have 35 suckler cows in the field across the road. What if that’s a TB-infected carcase?” he asked.
“TB is a big problem in this area, Kildare and west Wicklow. I was locked up for five and a half months last year due to TB in neighbouring herds.
“The farmer is all the time taking the brunt of TB and these people [who butchered the deer] don’t give a damn.”
The Moone farmer has bagged the remains of the deer, and is calling on the DVO to test it for TB, while a glove left at the scene was taken by An Garda Síochána to check for fingerprints.
Thomas O’Connor, Kildare IFA county chair, said that there are a lot of deer coming further south as a result of overpopulation.
"There are in the region of 200,000 deer and 86,000 cattle in Wicklow. There will be an explosion of TB in the bovine population," said O'Connor.
The incidence rate is four times higher in the west Wicklow area than the rest of the country, O'Connor said.
Some are grazing near Baltinglass and on roadsides, he said, while accidents have occurred on the M7 and M9 due to deer running across the motorway. This is now not only an animal welfare issue but also a human welfare issue, he said.
Farmers' livelihoods are at risk
O’Connor said that "farmers' livelihoods are at risk".
He said that the TB issue is so bad in the Kildare and west Wicklow area that he is calling on Minister of State for Heritage, Malcom Noonan, and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to make more of an effort to come down and meet the farmers to see the extent of the problem.
O’Connor worries that the deer population has grown so fast that it is "gone beyond control".