A public consultation on the future management of the population of deer in Ireland has found widespread support for culling.
A total of 82% of people said that deer are negatively impacting biodiversity.
Meanwhile, 81% said the animals are damaging agricultural land and the same percentage of respondents agreed that they are a road safety concern.
In recent weeks there have been a number of incidents of people reporting their cars being hit by vehicles across Donegal.
In the 12 months to February 2022, more than 55,000 deer were culled in Ireland. The consultation was conducted as part of the development of a national deer management strategy.
Details of the consultation has been seen by RTE and is being reported today.
The consultation on the future management of the deer population in Ireland found that a large majority of respondents agree that wild deer are impacting biodiversity, land management and road safety, and culling was deemed the most important action to address the problems.
The consultation was carried out from December to last February on behalf of the Deer Management Strategy Group that was established to look at the issue by the Government in 2022.
Respondents were asked their views on the impact of deer on a range of issues.
1,512 submissions were received from farmers, foresters, ecologists, academics, NGOs and public bodies.
Just over half of the respondents lived in rural areas.
A majority of respondents supported contracting hunters and gamekeepers to manage the deer population
A majority of the respondents also felt that deer are damaging forestry and they expressed a concern that the animals are a tuberculosis (TB) threat to bovines.
Asked to rank management options in order of importance, 86% chose deer culling, 78% also supported allowing landowners to manage deer.
A majority of people supported contracting hunters and gamekeepers to enable effective population management of the animal, developing a market for wild venison and extending the hunting season.
The findings were presented to some stakeholders at a meeting last week and they will aid the Deer Management Strategy Group’s ongoing work.
The group is chaired by Teddy Cashman and includes officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte.
In a statement, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said: “For agriculture as well as our natural ecosystems it is important that we are aware of the need for sustainable management of our national deer population”.