A proposed cull of around half of the UK’s growing deer population could deliver road safety benefits as well as help the environment (BBC News).
The deer population is currently estimated at around 1.5 million; more than at any time since the last Ice Age. In the absence of natural predators deer populations are continuing to expand, threatening biodiversity and causing road traffic crashes and crop damage, say researchers.
In December 2012, the DfT published statistics which showed a sharp rise in the number of fatal road crashes involving animals. Eight people were killed in 2011, compared with one in 2010. The crashes are thought to have involved deer or sheep.
Dr Paul Dolman, ecologist at the University of East Anglia, led a census of roe and muntjac deer populations across 234 sq km (90 sq miles) of woods and heathland in Breckland, East Anglia.
The results indicate that existing management strategies are failing. Although deer numbers appeared stable in the area, this was only because thousands of the animals were being pushed out into the surrounding countryside each year. The new research suggests that only by killing 50% to 60% of deer can their numbers be kept under reasonable control.
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