Shooting & Fishing: Muntjac are constant nibblers and hard to see and shoot

I don’t want to be difficult (hem hem) but this report from the University of East Anglia which says we must wipe out half of the UK’s deer population seems to have got hold of some odd numbers.

UEA estimates that there are 1.5 million deer in the UK. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) reckons there may be 1m in Scotland.

This, the mathematicians amongst you will have worked out, means that if SNH is right, which for once I suspect they may be, there are only 500,000 deer in England and Wales.

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It only goes to show, not that the respective bodies are wrong, but more than likely no one is right. Spot the difference.

In the meantime the cynics have set up the cry, “Let them eat Bambi,” claiming the imminent influx of starving Romanians will quickly sort out the deer population once and for all.

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I’m not sure about that. I had Romanian decorators and offered them a brace of pheasants by way of being matey and they wouldn’t have it. Like many people they have a thing about feathers and would have preferred their birds oven-ready, wrapped in clingfilm on a tray.

However, the East Europeans may have form on this front. Reports say representatives of the earlier influx of Poles were frequently found hauling carp out of catch and release gravel pits in the English Midlands and eating them for Christmas. Anyway.

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The first thing that happened with the UEA call for a cull to wipe out 50 per cent of the UK’s deer was that everyone with anything to do with deer in Scotland said, “Nothing to do with us, pal. You’re on yer own.” Which was fair enough as we, surprisingly, don’t do badly on deer management.

Leaving that aside; the last thing we need is to become involved in some across the board UK cull. The question which I am sure UEA understand is that when you suggest culling 50 per cent of the population you have to decide which 50 per cent, and then the fun really begins.

I would suggest Mr Salmond could contract out the expert services of the SNH deer people to DEFRA south of the Border, except that a huge part of the English problem has been created by muntjac, and we don’t have any.

These tiny little things are constant nibblers, hard to see, hard to shoot and breed all year round.

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Indeed, they are so verminous that SNH has had to issue an uncharacteristic muntjac fatwa to prevent any surviving this side of Hadrian’s Wall. And quite right too.

Still, we did our bit for Scottish deer management last weekend – four roe in a couple of mornings. Out with the Kenwood sausage maker. Yum yum yum.