“The Bambi Complex”

That’s the title of an article in The Telegraph Magazine last weekend that begins “Wild deer grazing at dusk may be a picturesque sight worthy of Disney, but a recent population explosion has resulted in around two million animals roaming the UK – the most since 1066 – destroying precious woodland and depriving farmers of crops.”

The statistics on deer numbers and the costs for farming and for new woodland creation are real here in the Quantocks as elsewhere. There are also effects on other wildlife due to grazing pressure in the woodlands.

In the last Newsletter we reported DEFRA’s furtive holiday season consultation proposing to increase the culling of stags as a means of reducing deer numbers and that we, like others interested in the Quantocks red deer, had responded by pointing out that, because one stag can mate with numerous hinds, numbers can only be reduced by killing hinds and that this, to be done safely and humanely, should be done by professional stalkers.

DEFRA has made no announcement since. What is interesting about the Telegraph article is not only that it reaches the same conclusion about the way to reduce numbers but that it turns its attention to the potential to develop a market for venison and how that would drive more culling. The problem we might then face is more poaching and more incidental killing of the stags that contribute to the natural beauty of the hills. This is going to be a difficult one to deal with and we will continue to work on it with all those who value our splendid red deer to try to get a workable and acceptable outcome.