The practice of controlling deer herds in England and Wales is facing renewed calls in the face of a surge in the population, with people up in arms about how it looks to conservationists and wildlife experts alike. They fear that European regulations have given rabbits the idea that they can “cut it” by feeding the deer like the rest of the country, and are now calling for a strict cull to stem the population. It’s not the first time it’s come up: in 2014, the British government reneged on an old hunting law which would have allowed counties to kill around 800 deer.
No one has confirmed how large the herds are in England and Wales — some think the figures have been overstated. There are currently around 500,000 deer in England, with around 2 million in Wales, reports the Daily Mail. The population seems to be taking off, even if there are “a lot” of breeding animals, according to houndsman Dai Johnstone. “I have seen a lot of ‘red deer’ in deer parks and on highways,” he says.
The National Trust has spread deer culling across both areas in its landscape conservation schemes. The rangers have found that there are “clusters” of large numbers of deer near farms and roads, and want to eliminate “populations in danger of becoming unmanageable” by giving hounds to chase them, while leaving individual animals alone.