The organisers of last weekend’s Northern Ireland Country Sports Fair in Scarva have hit back over claims that an animal on show at the event was injured in a chemical attack.
Earlier this week it was reported that a young deer on show at the fair had suffered suspected burns to its hide.
Its owner, Tandragee-based farmer Kenny Gracey, who supplies a variety of animals for TV and film productions, including hit series such as Game of Thrones and The Frankenstein Chronicles, was quoted on Facebook and other media outlets as saying he believed the deer had some sort of chemical thrown over it, causing the burns.
However, the organisers of the fair, Portadown-based Countrysports Fairs, denied the claims and said the animal’s injuries had been caused when it was bitten by a donkey that was in the same pen.
In response to the reports of a “chemical attack” on the deer, Countrysports Fairs say they have carried out a full investigation and ordered an independent veterinary inspection of the injured deer.
Again refuting the suggestion that the deer was injured in a chemical attack, a statement issued by the organisers said: “The independent vet has confirmed that the deer exhibits no signs of burning consistent with a chemical attack. Furthermore, the vet has advised that there is evidence of various mixed abrasions that would be more indicative of conflict with another animal.
“The findings of the independent vet support an eye witness account that during the early hours of Sunday 28 May, he saw the donkey biting the deer, which was housed in the same enclosure over the weekend of the fair. The eye witness also confirmed that he actually had to intervene and separate the two animals to prevent any further injury to the deer.”
The statement adds: “The organisers of the Northern Ireland Country Sports Fair are deeply disappointed, distressed and alarmed, by the decision of various press and media outlets to publish the incorrect version of events, without any evidence to support the claims.
“Accordingly, the organisers of the NI Country Sports Fair are calling for the owner of the deer, Mr Kenny Gracey, and the various publications to retract their statements and issue a public apology as a matter of the utmost urgency.”
Speaking about the incident, NI Country Sports Fair director Derek Lutton said: “I am delighted to learn that the deer is recovering well and that there will be no long term effects. We take our animal welfare responsibilities very seriously and we work in partnership with animal owners to ensure the highest levels of animal welfare at the fair.
“We have been involved in organising outdoor events for over 20 years and this fair is growing in popularity each year, with visitors attending from all over Ireland and beyond. The fair has an excellent reputation and I therefore would like the owner of the deer and all those involved in the reporting of this incident to do the right thing and provide the public with the true facts.”
Mr Gracey confirmed that the deer is making a good recovery, but said he had no further comment to make on the issue at this time.