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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 04:28 GMT
Plan to control deer population
Deer can cause road accidents and damage vegetation
Proposals to control UK wild deer numbers are being published by the government.

Some experts believe that the deer population in England is at its highest level for a millennium.

At present, 160,000 deer are culled each year because they are damaging crops and woodland, and are involved in thousands of car accidents.

Peter Watson, from the Deer Initiative charity, said: "The real issue is to ensure that we don't start looking at deer purely as a pest."

He added: "We've got to treat them as an asset because if we don't we devalue their presence in the countryside."

Management future

The government's new strategy follows a public consultation by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission.

Defra is heralding the strategy as the first modern framework for tackling the management of wild deer.

The say that despite the role of the government, the primary responsibility for deer control will remain with landowners.

Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Wild deer are beautiful animals and an important part of our cultural landscape and natural heritage.

"With careful and sustainable management, landowners and deer managers will be able to control the impact that the increasing numbers of wild deer are having on our native biodiversity, while conserving and protecting both the countryside and its wildlife, including native deer."

See deer caught on camera in the countryside

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