By Cormac Murphy
High market prices for venison has pushed deer poaching in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains to epidemic levels, a senior garda has revealed.
Based on a strong demand in Europe for the meat, legitimate wildlife dealers are paying €70 for an average hind and €100 for a stag.
Now, gardai along with the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) are cracking down on poachers, one of whom recently handed in 72 deer to a dealer in the space of a month.
"These guys are shooting 10, 12, 13 deer a day.
"The reason you have increases is that people are getting well paid for it," Insp Martin Walker told the Herald.
"When you have that type of reward, it's down to greed and down to the financial reward and gain (for the increasing levels of poaching)," he added.
Wicklow's Luggala Estate has the highest concentration of Sika deer in Europe and, as a result, is a "magnet to both legitimate and illegitimate hunters", Insp Walker said.
"These unscrupulous poachers were shooting deer at night time from the public roads using high-powered spot lights and rifles. More....