For further information contact Andrew McLaughlin at the University of Bath press office on 01225 386883, 01225 384220 or 07966 341 357

» submit an item · an event

Deer
Government experts suggest that a widespread cull of up to 35 per cent of Britain's deer population may be necessary to prevent habitat damage and ease pressure on the food chain
Deer sign
The expanding population of deer has also resulted in an increase in the number of road accidents caused by deer

Press Release - 22 December 2004

Online survey on the management of deer

Ramblers, cyclists and other users of the countryside are being asked to give their views on the future management of Britain’s 1.5 million wild deer.

At a time when there is growing concern about the growing deer population and the need for control, such as shooting, researchers at the University of Bath have produced an on-line survey to provide evidence of public opinion on the issue.

The growing number of deer in Britain is affecting agriculture and forestry, is hampering efforts to conserve native habitats and putting pressure on the food chain which supports other wildlife.

Earlier this year, damage to native woodland in Scotland, caused by the density of the native red deer, prompted the Deer Commission for Scotland to carry out the first part of a Government-funded cull at Glenfeshie in Scotland.

An expanding population of deer has also resulted in an increase in the number of road accidents caused by deer.

A further issue is that the deer population could be a possible reservoir of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) infection which affects farm cattle.

These factors have caused Government experts to suggest that a widespread cull of up to 35 per cent of Britain’s deer population may be necessary.

At the same time, large areas of the countryside are being designated as ‘open country’ which will increase recreational access to the countryside.

Requests for temporary closure of these areas to allow deer culls to take place restrict will public access to the countryside, and have to be dealt with on an individual basis by Countryside Agency staff.

“The aim of the online survey is to provide evidence of public opinion on the questions of if, how and why deer should be culled, and perceptions of its harmony with wider use of the countryside,” said Mark Malins, a researcher at the University of Bath.

“Public contributions to the survey will be made available to help the Government formulate future policies on the management of the deer population and access to the countryside.”

The online survey (at: http://www.bath.ac.uk/ice/deer) includes a briefing document that gives background information and a choice of a short or more detailed questionnaire.

Alternatively, people can request printed copies of the survey by calling the International Centre for the Environment at the University of Bath on 01225 386156, or e-mailing: wildlife-research@bath.ac.uk.

The survey includes questions on how people use the countryside for recreation, what people think about population control methods for deer, such as shooting or even the re-introduction of wolves in Scotland, and the training of people who cull deer.

“Given the recent consultation report by DEFRA [the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] on deer management, this research programme has been launched at the perfect time to enable members of the wider public to have their say on issues surrounding the future of deer in relation to countryside access,” continued Malins.

The researchers will also be carrying out face to face interviews at various locations where the public utilise land inhabited by deer.

Members of the public have until Friday 1 April 2005 to submit their views to the researchers.