Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Deer cull call follows crash rise

A deer attempts to cross a road in Ashdown Forest
The forest has more than 7,000 deer (Photo by deercollisions.co.uk)

A major cull of deer numbers needs to be carried out to cut road accidents, according to the group that manages Ashdown Forest.

In 2000 rangers attended 100 collisions involving deer compared to 266 in 2008, despite having fewer staff in 2008.

Dr Hew Prendergast, Clerk to Conservators of Ashdown Forest said a cull was the only viable option.

Trevor Weeks, of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service, said speeding motorists were the problem.

The area of heath and woodland on the Kent and Sussex border was established 900 years ago for deer hunting.

If you can source everything locally it produces income and economy for the local areas
Phil Miles

It now has several thousand Fallow Deer, about two dozen Roe Deer, large numbers of Muntjac and a small herd of Sika.

Dr Hew Prendergast said in 2007 there were 311 road crashes involving deer in the forest and the figure for 2008 was only lower because they had 25% fewer staff and were therefore able to attend fewer incidents.

He added: "The damage the deer are doing in the countryside and the numbers of casualties there are on the roads mean that something must be done.

"The logistics of fencing off all the roads are impossible really to consider so a reduction of the population as a whole needs to be done."

It has also been said that a cull would provide fresh venison for the local economy.

'Drive too fast'

Phil Miles, of Godmersham Game butchers in Canterbury, said: "If you can source everything locally it produces income and economy for the local areas.

"You cut down your disease problems because you are not transporting carcasses or live animals everywhere.

"It's always been there but it's been too easy to go and buy stuff from the supermarket."

Wildlife welfare campaigner Mr Weeks said his organisation was currently treating a deer that had been injured in a road crash at its centre in Uckfield.

He added: "I would be opposed to a cull. It's not the deers' fault, its the drivers who drive too fast and don't change their speed to the conditions of the road.

"The price of venison has decreased so it would not sell very well. With the credit crunch should the tax payer be paying for a cull of deer."

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Last year there were 300 accidents involving deer in the Ashdown Forest area of Sussex alone



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