Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The damage that deer do to wildlife

Month or so ago, the Daily Mirror gave me a bit of a going over for contemplating shooting a handsome stag that was grazing enthusiastically and destructively on my shrub border. All fair enough. Mirror now refers to me as a Tory Gun Nut - despite my not having shot anything for 45 yrs. What wasn't fair enough though was the behaviour of the RSPCA which was about as hypocritical as you can get. Condemned me. And day or so later praised Dr Brian May (who holds some position with the RSPCA) for managing deer sustainably after he'd paid a 'hired gun' to kill a whole 'collective noun' of them -  because they were damaging trees on his 'estate'. Actually, they were right to support Dr May, who was acting in the wider interests of wildlife - which brings me to a story that the BBC is reporting today.

The British Ecological Society have worked with Durham University and FERA to research the impact of roe deer on wildlife diversity. Roe and Red deer are the only two 'natural' British deer, though the Fallow has been about for a millennium. The Muntjac, Sika and Chinese water deer are all comparative newcomers. The deer which cause me stress through degradation of our garden are the Red and Fallow. Anyway, it seems that the research shows that deer eat saplings, debark young trees and eliminate much of the under-storey of vegetation. People who understand the countryside knew that already. The result of this deer activity when numbers are not controlled is a huge reduction in biodiversity, particularly of bird life. People who support the idea of greater diversity of wildlife should campaign in support of stalking and culling deer.

And while the British Ecological Society are at it, they should commission research into the impact of the great increase in badger numbers on birds which nest on the ground or in the base of hedges. And we know the damage to diversity causes by the hated mink - and that the rat-like grey squirrel has all but killed off our lovely native reds. The point I make is that this idea that all creatures in the wild should always be protected actually causes huge damage to wildlife diversity. The attack on me in the Daily Mirror certainly caused damage to my previously supportive attitude towards the RSPCA. You can tell it still rankles six weeks later.

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