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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 10:50 GMT
Park report fears hunting ban
Red deer - Picture courtesy natural-history-pictures.co.uk
A hunt ban may have an adverse effect on numbers
A new report into Exmoor's management for the next five years warns of the dangers to the moor's red deer if hunting is banned.

The report recommends plans are made as soon as possible to preserve the numbers of the animals.

The Exmoor Park Authority says the red deer are kept healthy by a complex culling process, mixing shooting and hunting.

In the report they insist a hunting ban would mean they will have to find a new way to preserve and manage the 2,500 animals - Britain's biggest population of red deer.

Fallow deer - Picure courtesy natural-history-pictures.co.uk
The herd ranges freely over Exmoor
Exmoor National Park officer, Nigel Stone, believes that losing the Devon and Somerset Staghounds would force farmers into shooting deer to save their crops, and claims numbers could soon start to decline.

"At the moment farmers can call in the hunt to chase them off for a few days. If hunting were banned, that option goes.

"It wouldn't surprise me if people ended up shooting them in a free-for-all.

"Currently there are some legal restrictions but basically the deer is the property of whoever's land it is on with subsequent action at the discretion of the individual landowner.

"The deer range freely but do need to be managed. They have no natural predator and their numbers can build-up pretty quickly."

Many also believe a significant increase in deer shooting would drive the animals to cover and reduce the opportunities for visitors to enjoy sightings of wild deer on open moorland and fields.


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24 Jan 02 | England
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