Photo credit: me'nthedogs/Creative Commons
The Exmoor Emperor, standing over nine feet tall and weighing over 300 pounds, was thought to be the largest wild animal in all of Britain. That title, however, is up for grabs since the giant red deer was recently found shot dead.
Believed to be the work of a licensed hunter, the kill occurred within the confines of the law but the shooting has raised questions about red deer hunting in England.Peter Donnelly, an Exmoor-based deer management expert, argues that hunting during mating season is especially problematic. He commented
It could be that he didn't get a chance to rut properly this year, therefore his genes have not been passed on this time round...the poor things should be left alone during the rut, not harried from pillar to post. If we care about deer we should maintain a standard and stop all persecution during this important time of the year.
And hunting during the mating season is not the only concern this killing raised.
Photo credit: law_keven/Creative Commons
Increasingly, local enthusiasts say, wealthy sportspeople travel to the county to hunt the exceptionally-sized stags for trophies. In addition to these visiting hunters, there is a growing number of people willing to pay—with prices starting at £1,000—for a large quality red deer bust.
Still, the population of red deer in the area remains healthy and culling older males past their mating prime remains a common and accepted practice. That the Exmoor Emperor was taken as he was passing over the hill—but not yet completely out of his prime—enthusiasts argue is a tragedy because the population has been deprived one or two more productive mating seasons.
Read more about hunting and conservation:
The Problem With 'Shoot to Kill' Conservation
Wolves Can Help Restore Ecosystems
The Impact of Wolf Hunting Much Greater than Commonly Assumed
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