Stag warning

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A large stag seen in the area over the past week has caused a lot of interest amongst local people.

Banbridge PSNI have issued a warning advising motorists to be extra careful when travelling along the area of the A1 near Loughbrickland.

They said: “Can we ask anyone travelling along the area of the A1 near Loughbrickland and the surrounding roads be extra careful as we have had reports of a large stag being seen in the area.

“Police are looking for the animal and should anyone see it please contact us immediately.

“At this point we think it has gone into hiding somewhere in that area.”

Offering advice to local people, Ed McGuiggan , Nature Reserves Officer with Ulster Wildlife said: “October is the peak rutting season for three of our larger deer species – red, fallow and sika.

“During the rut, males will be pumped full of testosterone making these otherwise timid animals, more aggressive.

“Males will also tend to venture across a wider territory. Dawn and dusk are the peak times for deer activity, so with the shorter days motorists are more likely to see one on the road. If you see a deer, do not approach it, as these are wild and unpredictable animals, particularly at this time of year.”

Concerns were expressed that this could be a ‘carted’ stag, the practice of releasing farm reared animals into open countryside and pursuing them on horseback, also using a pack of hounds.

Meanwhile, the issue of stags having the potential to carry TB was raised.

A DARD spokesperson commented: “Deer can become infected with TB. When infected, deer can cause a risk both through direct contact infection with other species and possibly indirectly, by disturbance of stock fencing etc.

“Not only can infected deer expose a risk to cattle, but may do so to all species including humans.

“However, close physical human contact with the stag carries a much more significant, and potentially lethal, physical risk to the humans, (as these stags are in ‘rutting’ season and are very dangerous) than the risk of any infection with TB.

“DARD does not routinely test deer for TB. However, where deer increase the TB risk to cattle herds, increased testing and movement controls could be employed to control the risk in the exposed cattle herds.”