Deer face death in the Peak District

A deer cull is taking place in the Peak District.
A deer cull is taking place in the Peak District.
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A large-scale deer cull is taking place in the Peak District, we can reveal.

Sixty-three red deer were killed last winter and a maximum of 112 will be culled this season.

The cull is happening on Big Moor, above Baslow, Curbar and Froggatt, to control spiralling numbers of deer encroaching on to the land.

A spokesman for the Eastern Moors Partnership – which manages the land – said: “Red deer have become one of the iconic features of the area; a great symbol of the wild and open nature of the site.

“The deer are wild animals and move across a wider landscape than Big Moor itself.

“From 2013-2014 the numbers jumped significantly from 183 to 263 deer in the Big Moor area alone.

“With these higher numbers, along with the benefits of having deer on the moors, there are also less desirable effects, namely limiting the recovery of moorland plants and reducing the regeneration of young trees in the woodlands adjacent to the moor.

“It has also led to grazing in the meadows around the site, which should be left to flower and set seed during the summer.

“If left unchecked numbers will grow to a point where the deer over utilise the resources on the moors and have to spread further afield to find food and shelter.

“Nature’s own way of preventing this would be to control the herd size with large predators, such as wolves.

“As these animals are now missing from UK ecosystems, the choice to keep deer numbers at balanced levels, which benefits both the animals themselves and the habitat they live in, falls to us.”

The spokesman said the culls are being carried out by “professionals in deer management in a sensitive and respectful way”.

He added: “The long-term aim is to maintain and enjoy a site rich in wildlife, of which the deer are a vital part.

“We want to ensure that the deer are healthy, the moorlands and woodlands are in good condition and all these features can be enjoyed by the public.”

The red deer is Britain’s largest land mammal.

They are red-coloured in summer and this changes to greyish brown during the winter.