Call for large-scale deer cull

Experts are urging a large-scale cull on deer which could see close to a million animals being shot each year in the UK.

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'Not realistic to have bears and wolves' to control deer numbers

Expanding areas of woodland surrounded by farms, together with the lack of natural predators, have provided perfect conditions in which deer can flourish.

Dr Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia told a a news briefing in London that, "I don't think it's realistic to have wolves and brown bears in rural England. In the absence of natural predators, the only way to manage them is to shoot them."

Each year more than 14,000 vehicles are severely damaged and about 450 people injured or killed on British roads as a result of collisions with deer.

Deer stand in the snow at Studley Royal Park, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Deer stand in the snow at Studley Royal Park, Ripon, North Yorkshire Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA WireImages

Deer strip woodland of wild flowers, brambles and shrubs, and disturb the ecology to the point that native birds are lost. The fact that nightingales are now so rare is largely blamed on deer.Britain has a total of six deer species.

Roe deer and red deer are the only two species native to the UK. Four others have been introduced from abroad since Norman times.

The most recent newcomers were the muntjac deer and the Chinese water deer, which became established in the wild in the 1920s.

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Dangers posed by urban deer populations

Shooting by trained and licensed hunters is the only practical way to keep deer populations under control, according to Dr Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia.

As deer populations are pushed from the countryside to more urban areas Dr Doman claims the likelihood of accidents increases.

Studies have been done in Sheffield that show roe deer living in cemeteries.

Muntjac deer will move into private gardens and allotments. Fallow deer are wide ranging - they live in woodland but come in to feed. There are housing estates in London where they've been known to graze on lawns in the evening.

There have been no accidents yet but it's only a matter of time. These are large animals with sharp antlers. If you had one cornered in a school playing field, it could be nasty.

– Dr Paul Dolman, the University of East Anglia

Experts urge deer cull to kill 750,000 deer each year

Experts are urging a huge deer cull which could see close to a million animals being shot each year in the UK.

They claim that culling on such a massive scale is necessary just to keep the exploding deer population at its current level.

Fallow deer graze at Bradgate Park, Newtown Linford, Leicestershire
Fallow deer graze at Bradgate Park, Newtown Linford, Leicestershire Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The call to arms was made after new research showed that it was only by killing 50% to 60% of deer populations could their numbers be kept under control.

This is slaughter on a far greater scale than the 20% to 30% culling rates previously recommended.

The results, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, indicate that existing management strategies are failing.

With total deer numbers conservatively estimated at about 1.5 million, it could result in more than 750,000 animals being shot every year.