The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) reacted angrily to the city council’s proposed cull of roe deer on Tullos Hill yesterday.
Councillors agreed this week to order the cull to protect the local authority’s “tree for every citizen” project – unless animal rights groups could raise £225,000 to pay for deer fences by May 10.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which has recommended a cull, carried out a survey of the Tullos site one night last month and found about 30 roe deer.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We firmly believe culls should only take place to protect the public or for animal welfare reasons.
“Clearly the council has no concerns for the sustainability of these deer as it has agreed to halt the cull if the public donate the £225,000 it says is required to protect the trees from the deer and provide ongoing maintenance. “This decision has been taken simply on the grounds that it would cost too much to protect the trees from the deer.
“It is absurd and abhorrent to undertake a cull because it would be too costly to protect trees which have not even been planted.”
Mr Flynn emphasised the council would be committing itself to an “ongoing and continual” cull because nearby deer will simply move into the area if it does not erect the fencing the councillors say they cannot afford.
“We would suggest these trees should either be planted elsewhere or not at all,” he added. “Trees should certainly not be planted at the expense of the lives of animals.”
SNH wildlife management officer James Scott clarified the environment agency’s role in the plans for a cull last night.
He said it was the council’s decision and that SNH had investigated all the alternative options.
“As the landowner, Aberdeen City Council has the legal right to manage deer on the site, and it’s their decision whether to cull the deer or not,” he said.
“With an increased focus on woodland creation, especially in and around towns, the sustainable management of deer and their impacts will become a common issue for local authorities.
“We provided advice which discussed a number of potential solutions, from fencing through to culling.
“A number of proposals which would make the site less attractive to deer were also recommended in addition to deer management.
“Although non-lethal deer removal and relocation options were discussed, the animal welfare implications are significant and this option would not protect the site from deer damage in the longer term.
“Fencing and enclosures have their problems too, as a core path runs through the site and fences would interfere with public access and have been subject to vandalism on this site in the past.”
Copyright: arcticle: Calum Ross, The Press and Journal