Calls for a mass deer cull

Posted on the 7th March 2013

The University of East Anglia has conducted a study that, it says, highlights the need for massively increased culling of deer – up to 60 per cent of some species, and more than 750,000 animals every year. The research was conducted on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and the results were published today (March 7th) in The Journal of Wildlife Management. Researchers say that current levels of culling appear to control deer numbers but, in reality, deer are just being pushed further out of one area and spreading further.

Animal Aid has serious reservations about this research, and about the drive to mass cull deer in general. Better methods of counting deer today does not help us understand how populations have changed over time, and we distrust claims of a ‘population explosion’. Further, it is not possible to extrapolate from one small area in East Anglia across the nation as a whole, and come up with a figure.

The arguments for their mass ‘control’ are that deer cause damage to crops and forestry, and that they cause road traffic accidents. Drivers travelling on forested roads would do well to abide by the reduced speed limits imposed, and to remain alert and vigilant. It is not the fault of the deer if speeding drivers hit them.

Defra research in 2009 found that deer did not cause significant crop damage, so it is strange that the East Anglia researchers cite this as a ‘problem’. As for ‘damage’ caused by deer to forestry, these complaints come from vested interests – notably foresters and shooters – who consistently call for the culls of any and all species that affect their profits.

Animal Aid does not oppose the humane killing of individual animals who may be suffering, in the same way that domestic animals are euthanased when no longer healthy, but we do not support the mass culling of any wild population.

Humans are just one of many species who occupy on this planet. Animal Aid calls for a greater tolerance of the wild animals who live alongside us. They must be allowed to eat, breed and survive without being seen as mere problems to be managed.

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