Tourism in Killarney is enjoying a boost this autumn with hotels and other accommodation busier than normal, thanks to numbers arriving to catch the deer rutting season amid spectacular autumn foliage.

Large stags and their hinds within metres of the lakeside Lake Hotel dining room have become a nightly fixture for camera-wearing tourists and diners. Social media is right now full of extraordinary pictures of red stags bellowing at dawn.

A recent red deer walk by the Irish Deer Commission and the National Parks and Wildlife Service drew visitors from Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and other regions, all of them staying in local hotels and accommodation.

However, fears are being expressed about wildlife crime against deer by unscrupulous gangs operating along the Cork/Kerry border between Kilgarvan and Coolea, and in the Kilcummin area north of Killarney.

Wildlife crime against deer has soared this season in the southwest, the Irish Deer Commission has revealed.

Meetings between the deer commission and gardaí have been taking place in the Cork/Kerry border area in an effort to tackle illegal night-time hunting in particular, but also other wildlife crime against deer, commission spokesman Damien Hannigan said.

The commission, made up of conservationists and deer stalkers and experienced hunters, has had 34 reports of wildlife crime against deer since September 1, when the season for hunting male deer under permit opened. The number of reports is the highest ever than during the recession Mr Hannigan said.

The season for hunting of female deer under permit opened yesterday (November 1) and there are fears of a further increase of the illegal hunting in advance of the Christmas season by gangs who sell the venison illegally.

Deer are dazzled and then shot and in some cases chased to exhaustion by dogs.

Negativity involving unsubstantiated claims that linking deer with the spread of TB and so on may be contributing to the increase, Mr Hannigan added. He is urging the public to report any night-time activity that might be targeting our deer.

Pic: Peter O’Toole.

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