Thursday, 15 November 2007

Hundreds of red deer to be shot as part of Quantock Hills management plans

PLANS to shoot hundreds of red deer on the Quantock Hills have caused upset among animal welfare groups.
They have condemned the cull event as ‘unnecessary and barbaric’.
But the Quantock Deer Management and Conservation Group said it would be necessary to reduce numbers of deer to levels which were ‘manageable’.
The group is asking landowners on the hills to help with the shooting, which will take place during Friday, November 30.
The current deer herd on Quantocks is estimated to have grown since hunting was banned three years ago to be close to the higher end of its annually fluctuating size of 700 to 900 animals.
Around 850 deer are thought to inhabit the hills, which are a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, of which about 700 are hinds and 150 stags.
The deer spill out onto surrounding farmland and cause damage as they feed on crops, resulting in friction between the farming and landowning community with animal rights groups.
The management group believes the herd needs to be reduced to about 500 in order for it to be properly managed.
It organises an annual cull of the red deer and said this year it wanted to have proper co-ordination of Quantock landowners.
The group’s secretary, Dr Jochen Langbein said farmers and landowners became concerned when they often experienced 50 or more deer on their property at the same time.
Dr Langbein said: "We aim to get deer back to levels people are happier with."
However, South West Deer Protection Group chairman and anti-hunt campaigner Kevin Hill said the cull would ‘end up a bloodbath’.
Mr Hill said: “I am concerned that we will have guns positioned on every farm.”
The deer management group was formed in 1991 to promote greater liaison between landholders, environmental organisations, huntsmen, stalkers, and other parties.
It is committed to ensuring the long-term survival of a healthy and well-distributed population of red deer in and around the Quantock Hills in balance with its environment and other land uses.

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