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ACROSS Ireland, accidental and deliberate releases have led to resident populations of red deer (Cervus elaphus), sika deer (Cervus nippon), fallow deer (Dama dama) and feral goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) becoming established. These species are now widespread throughout the region, where they inhabit commercial forestry plantations and use adjacent agricultural land. More recently, muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) have also been introduced.
These animals regularly encroach on to pasture and as a result there is significant opportunity for pathogens to be exchanged between wild, feral and domestic species. Feral ungulates are also important hosts for ticks, such as Ixodes ricinus, that transmit numerous pathogens of veterinary and medical importance; therefore, the presence of …
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