MARKSMEN could be drafted in to cull deer in a Scottish city after it emerged motorists were killing more than one a week on the roads.
A new report has shown that at least 61 deer were killed in collisions with vehicles in Aberdeen over the past year.
Now the city council is considering using “humane techniques” to kill the deer to curtail such incidents and damage to allotments, parks and gardens.
The move is expected to draw protests from animal rights activists who launched a major campaign to save the deer when scores were culled to protect trees being planted in 2012.
About 90,000 trees were planted on six city boundary sites, including the 35-acre Tullos Hill, as part of the scheme and more than 40 deer were shot dead.
The local authority, defending the cull, said it was too expensive to erect fencing and mesh protection for the trees.
Critics of the cull have hit out at the new proposals which are due to be considered at a council meeting next Tuesday.
City resident Renee Slater said: “The council killed the last deer needlessly and it would be terrible for the same thing to happen again.
“They say it’s for the safety of the public but they need to think of ways they can do that which don’t mean deer need to die.”
John Robins of Animal Concern labelled the council “cull crazy” as it has yet to “adequately answer” questions about the cost and effect of previous culling.
He said: “They scaremonger about road traffic accidents caused by deer. Far more are caused by dogs and people, are they going to cull those too? If they can identify roads at high risk they should install appropriate signage and fencing.”
The new council report notes that the city’s roe deer population is thought to be high although no detailed survey has ever been carried out. Night-time winter counts have been organised in areas where trees have been damaged.
Communities, housing and infrastructure committee convener Neil Cooney said the council was legally bound by the Scottish Government to keep deer numbers down.
He said: “We have a legal duty to keep their numbers manageable. Wherever the deer see space they will move into it.
“It’s not just that they eat vegetation in the parks, they could also cause serious injury, or even death, if you hit one in your car.”