Fallow deer have been present in Phoenix Park, Dublin since the seventeenth century when they were hunted for sport by the gentry of the day. The present-day herd is descended from those deer who were chased for enjoyment and hunted for food.
They are wild animals, and their relationship with man has sometimes been a stormy one, like when calls were made to remove the animals to a special enclosure so twentieth-century motorists could drive through the park on the way to somewhere else without having deer wandering the roads and precipitating accidents.
In fact, their wanderings during the Second World War and pressure on space in general in Phoenix Park saw most of 1,200 herd members being officially shot dead. Just thirty-eight animals constituted the herd, following the 1942 cull.
Some 200 fawns can be born each year in Phoenix Park. By 2005, the herd had grown to some 800 animals once more and a major reduction was ordered by the Office of Public Works. Some 350 animals were to be killed to reduce the herd to a manageable size of 450 animals once more. A deer population of this size was regarded as the maximum carrying capacity of the park. The cull was to be carried out over a number of years taking into account the number of healthy or infirm specimens that are extant from each year of birth.
Text courtesy of Phoenix Park.
Photo: 70-200mm lens @ 200mm. ISO 400. 1/2500 @ f/2.8