It was the highest number of deer killed in Ireland in a single year on record.
Recently released figures show that 55,008 wild deer were culled in the 12 months up to February 2022.
The data was released by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to the Irish Deer Commission, which promotes and encourages efforts to improve the management and conservation of wild deer.
It sets a new record for the number of wild deer killed, which is up 24% from the previous record set in 2019 when 44,381 deer were culled.
The figures are based on required declarations from licensed hunters to the NPWS stating the number of deer culled by county, sex and species.
Amongst the 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland, Wicklow - which is believed to have an overpopulation of wild deer in some areas - had the highest kill count with 19,997.
In a statement, however, the Irish Deer Commission said the actual number of deer killed is likely to be significantly higher.
This is because the cull total does not include wild deer killed by poachers or "the growing number of deer killed on our roads".
Spokesperson for the commission Damien Hannigan stated:
"Over the last five years, over 200,000 wild deer were culled in Ireland under licence from the NPWS, highlighting the important role licensed deer hunters play in managing deer at sustainable levels to minimise negative impacts on farming, forestry, and the wider ecosystem.
"The Irish Deer Commission actively works with landowners who suffer negative impacts from wild deer. We also support the various agencies who deal with an increasing number of deer vehicle collisions on our roads through a network of trained members.”
Despite this, the Irish Deer Commission said that, because a population census for wild deer has never taken place and their population numbers are unknown, calls for culls are "often ill-informed".
"It has been suggested certain land use sectors have engaged in extensive political lobbying to have more deer culls increased, seasons changed without regard for animal welfare, or an attempt to reclassify our wild deer as an invasive species without understanding this would cause deer to spread further and become more difficult to manage," it added.
"Deer management experts have stated it is crucial deer management decisions are well founded and based on factual scientific data, and not as a result of political or land use sector pressure."
For more information, visit the Irish Deer Commission's website right here.
Header image Shutterstock
This article originally appeared on joe.ie
READ NEXT: Planning lodged for a mountain bike centre and café in Wicklow