Authorities not aware of significant Muntjac escape near Letterkenny

Muntjacs can have a detrimental effect on native deer.
Muntjacs can have a detrimental effect on native deer.

The authorities north and south are unaware of an escape of a significant number of invasive Reeves’ Muntjac deer in the Letterkenny area, as reported by DUP MLA Jim Wells at Stormont.

Mr Wells raised the matter with the Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen via an Assembly Question.

She replied: “My Department is not aware of a significant escape of Reeves’ Muntjac in the Letterkenny area of County Donegal.

“My officials have reviewed the records directly with the Invasive Species Officer at the National Biodiversity Data Centre and there are no records in this area.

“Officials have also consulted their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland about such a release and they are not aware of it either.”

The Minister said her department cooperated closely with the authorities across the border to limit the spread of the Muntjac species, which originated in China, and which poses a potential threat to the native habitat and species of deer in Ireland.

“My officials maintain close contact with agencies in the Republic of Ireland where there are issues of a mutual interest, and would assess what action may be required within our legislative remit should such an outbreak be confirmed,”said Ms McIlveen.

“In Northern Ireland, if any member of the public suspects that a wildlife crime has occurred, such as releasing this species into the wild, they are directed to call the PSNI on the 101 number and report it.

“Together with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland, we encourage members of the public to report such sightings,” she added.