A controversial deer cull began in Richmond Park on Monday despite protests from activists and animal lovers at the weekend.
Although protestors deem the cull cruel and inhumane, The Royal Parks insist that the cull, which will last for about four weeks, is essential to keep the herd at a manageable size.
Without a cull, Richmond’s deer population would rapidly expand as 200 fawns are born each year. A spokesperson for the Royal Parks said: “If animal population is not managed, food would become scarce and more animals would ultimately suffer.
“Without population control there would be other welfare issues such as low body fat, malnutrition and high incidence of death from exposure to cold in winter.”
Venison from the deer cull is sold to a single game wholesaler for distribution to shops but only under the condition that its Richmond Park origin is kept secret. The sale of the venison is said to generate an approximate £30K which also provides care for the remaining herd, going towards the cost of feeding and maintaining the health of the herd and other wildlife.
The spokesperson for the Royal Parks added: “As a member of the British Deer Society, The Royal Parks takes deer welfare very seriously. The deer in the Royal Parks are under veterinary supervision and all aspects of their welfare are monitored regularly.”