One of Derbyshire’s most popular photographers has expressed his sadness at a large-scale deer cull in the Peak District.
We revealed earlier this week how 63 red deer were killed last winter and a maximum of 112 will be destroyed this season.
“Professionals in deer management” are carrying out the controversial cull on Big Moor, above Baslow, Curbar and Froggatt, to control spiralling numbers of the animals.
Villager Jim – who is famed for his breathtaking nature shots of the Peak District and took the above picture of a stag and his daughter in Curbar – said: “Just look at this image. How really, really sad they should kill such an animal.
“What right do we have to say how many is too many?
“I’m a realist and I do understand the reasoning behind it but it doesn’t stop it being so unfortunate.
How really, really sad they should kill such an animalVillager Jim
“Survival is hard as it is without us coming along and adding to its toughness.”
Villager Jim said he is now considering starting a protest group called SOS – Save our Stags.
A spokesman for the Eastern Moors Partnership – which manages the land where the cull is taking place – 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.”
On social media, opinion is divided over the cull.
Sarah James said: “I’ve walked around Curbar. It’s beautiful, as are these animals. We are not overrun with them, they are not causing any problems – we don’t see enough of them. Who has the authority to say there are too many? It’s so wrong.”
Ally Samantha said: “These creatures are, for me, magical. I can’t help but feel totally mesmerised by them and have frequently been stopped in my tracks to just sit and watch them. This is such a terrible shame. If I could I would have 150 in my garden.”
Andy Wood said: “Unfortunately they have no natural predators, so culling is the only way to protect the deer from disease and protect the ecosystem. Unpalatable as it is, a cull is the only solution.”
Louise Brewer said: “I hate culls but I do know they are usually done when the herds become so enormous that there is not enough food for the deer and they starve to death. So maybe occasionally it’s the kindest thing to do.”