Animal Aid

SCOTTISH DEER - An artificial high?

Posted 1 December 2002
A deer

Do Scottish deer really need culling? Or do 'conservation' and 'deer management' interests keep their numbers artificially high in order to service a lucrative stalking industry. This excellent letter, published recently in the Glasgow Herald, gives pause for thought.

Letters to the Editor
The Herald

Dear Sir

As the subject of your article "Animal Activist's Claims Outlawed by Judge" (17 Aug.) I am not overly surprised by the verdict as the "establishment" protects its own.

However, I feel I should make some comments about the killing of deer by conservation charities such as the Woodland Trust.

Hunters and conservationists would have us believe that it is necessary to reduce deer numbers to an acceptable population level that doesn't cause ecological damage. When asked why the population has increased so rapidly, they tell us that deer reproduce prolifically and that there are no large predators, namely the wolf, left to control their numbers. On the face of it, that seems a reasonable explanation but it is more of a plausible excuse for hunters to enjoy their grizzly fun and conservationists to employ them to hunt in almost exactly the same way under the more respectable guise of culling.

There is no doubt that wolves were predators of deer, but not for a very long time. The last wolf was killed in the UK around 1750, more than 250 years ago, and their numbers were in serious decline for many decades before that. So it is reasonable to assume that wolves have had little impact on deer for the past 300 - 350 years. With that in mind one could be excused for thinking that deer numbers would have escalated at an enormous rate over that period. But it is only in the last 50-60 years that their numbers have increased significantly, coinciding with a thriving hunting industry and reforestation that provides shelter.

So is there a connection? Of course there is!

To understand the whole sorry mess, one must examine the structure and covert allegiances between hunters and conservationists who, including the Woodland Trust, form alliances within "deer management groups" that are overseen by the Deer Commission to maintain an artificially high deer population to satisfy the requirements of hunting estates. But as deer know no boundaries, the population expands to other areas unchecked, where they can damage unprotected saplings, ground flora and ground nesting habitats.

This is when the deceit of the conservationists comes to the fore. Having supped with the hunters, they now tell us they need to cull deer to reduce the increase in population that the hunters were responsible for in the first place. The horrid cycle continues year after year.

Why don't the conservationists abandon their hunting friends and join forces with the animal activists who oppose hunting? No chance - it's all about money. The government via the Deer Commission wishes to maintain the hunting industry as an economic benefit to rural areas and the conservationists depend on grants via the Forestry Authority to plant their trees.

The conservationists won't bite the hand that feeds them and the deer are the losers.

Animal rights and welfare activists, together with our MSPs, have rid this country of the scourge of hunting with dogs. The next target should be the hunting estates.

Yours faithfully

Angus Macmillan
Roots-of-Blood Campaign


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