SDLP Down District Councillor Carmel O’Boyle has raised concerns about the number of wild deer appearing close to homes and roads in the Tullybrannigan and Bryansford areas of Newcastle.
She said, “I am a member of the Mourne Heritage Trust and during a recent meeting I asked about the level of culling that is being carried out. The CEO of the Mourne Heritage Trust will raise this with the Forest Service. While no-one owns the wild deer, the Forest Service is responsible for a programme of culling that is intended to prevent the very thing that I reported.
“The number of deer that are coming into people’s gardens and are appearing on roads in the area is of concern to local people. On the one hand they are destroying flowers and vegetables in gardens, but even more worrying, they are standing in the middle of roads and are dangerous to drivers.
“It is unusual to see so many deer in the Tullybrannigan and Bryansford areas in the summer months, so my concerns are that maybe food is in short supply for them because of the large number of deer further up the mountain.
There have been reports of deer being knocked down and even landing on the bonnets of people’s cars, so it is only a matter of time before they cause a serious accident. In the meantime I would urge people to exercise caution and to be vigilant when driving in these areas in Newcastle.”
Red deer are prolific in Donegal and are part of the visual aspect of the countryside. Herds can often be seen close up of walking along the skyline. But they do cause occasional accidents and are also challenged by unscrupulous poachers. They are capable of jumping over quite high fences from a standing position, an gardens on the lower slopes of the Mournes will certainly be an atttactive source of food for them.
Following the very hard winter, their fear of humans may have diminshed and as they prepare themselves for another winter there may well be ‘encounters of a third kind.’ And again folloing the hard winter, in some parts of Scotland where there is also a big red deer population, young deer have grown used to humans and have been recorded being hand fed by them like ponies.
Drivers in the Mournes area should drive carefully especially at dusk when the light if difficult.