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Clash over red deer cull continues with petition

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 19, 2013

Rosemary Bamford (left) and Enid Ruddock present the petition to Geoff Nickolds deputy chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority who received it in his role as the Member Representative for Biodiversity.

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A PETITION has been presented to the Peak District National Park Authority over the culling of red deer in the Dane Valley.

Residents living in the Swythamley, Heaton, Rushton, Quarnford and Wincle areas say that they have not been consulted over any proposals.

Resident Edith Ruddock said that 171 people had signed the petition to show their concern that 76 animals that live in the Dane Valley, should be killed this year.

She said: "People are angry about a culling as they knew nothing about it.

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"Everyone feels we should have been consulted, but only finding out by chance is beyond belief. The Peak Park will not talk to local people."

But, the Peak District National Park Authority has stated as it was not their cull they have no powers over shooting rights and cannot stop it.

Rebekah Newman, ecologist and Dane Valley Project manager and Rhodri Thomas, Natural Environment Team manager at the Peak District National Park Authority said that people had been “misled” into thinking they were responsible for a new policy of deer culling in the valley.

They said: "Deer would be taken out anyway, without us, as has happened for many years. We have no power over shooting rights.

"What we do have, along with our partners in the Forestry Commission, Deer Initiative and Natural England, is the opportunity to advise landowners to be more co-ordinated and selective in the animals they take, for the good of the woodland environment, the gender balance of the herd and of its long-term future.

“This is what we are advising in the Deer Management Plan. Far from reducing the herd to an unviable level, as our critics allege, we would be failing in our job if we drove them to destruction.

“We love to see red deer just like everyone else, they are a valued part of the wildlife of the Peak District National Park and long may they remain so.

"But red deer breed prolifically and have no natural predators apart from humans.

"In large numbers they can cause significant damage to woodland habitats which also need to thrive.

“Deer fencing and temporary sapling protection are a primary part of the Deer Management Plan, but if deer shooting is happening anyway, then we need to incorporate it in the plan and encourage a more co-ordinated approach."

Peter Harvey, of the Winking Man in Upper Hulme, said he was against any cull as he saw the deer on most days from his premises.

Mr Harvey, who is also a Heathylee parish councillor, said: "I am raising the issue at the parish council meeting this week. I want to get the support of other members to allow the clerk to write to the Peak District National Park Authority to see what is going on.

"I could see the deer virtually every other day, but three or four weeks ago I heard some shots. I do not know if the shots were part of a cull or if they were poachers but I have not seen any deer since."

The petition stated: "We the undersigned are greatly concerned that the Peak District National Park Authority is proposing that 70 per cent of the Red Deer, 76 animals that live in the Dane Valley, should be killed this year and similar large proportions years after.

"While we wish to protect and enhance the woodlands we also highly value the present of the Red Deer and believe other approaches should be made."

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