Wildlife expert and TV presenter Chris Packham – star of The Real Wild Show and Springwatch – has once again sparked anger among some animal rights groups by supporting the mass culling of wild deer.
And of course, it’s not the first time that Chris’ outspoken views have courted controversy, because in 2009, during an interview with the Radio Times, Packham intimiated that the giant panda was “too expensive to save” and suggested that it “should be allowed to become extinct” so that funds could be redistributed to protecting other, less expensive animals and habitats.
However, in 2009, he spoke out about the use of animals on ITV reality show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! accusing the show of mistreating animals, and of “plugging up” spiders’ fangs to render them harmless, as well as needlessly killing insects and tying crocodiles’ mouths shut…
His latest remarks regarding a proposed mass cull of wild deer were reported in The Sun today, with the article stating that he weighed in on a recent report by the University of East Anglia that suggested that 60 per cent of the animals – some 750,000 a year – should be humanely shot.
Writing in the paper, Chris remarked, “It’s sad that it has come to this but it’s our own fault — we got rid of the deer’s natural predators through hunting.
“The last wolf was killed in the UK in 1680, by 1770 lynx were wiped out and bears were gone long before that.
“So now the only killer of deer is the car and that is neither a big enough impact on their number, nor a safe way of dealing with the problem.
“People have been killed by their car hitting a deer.
“Deer also eat and destroy the natural habitats of all sorts of creatures, from insects and birds to mammals and with numbers spiralling out of control, they are killing off species we love just as much as deer.
“Muntjac deer eat anything and everything in people’s gardens, too.
“I live near a country estate next to the New Forest, where the land is private so they have organised culls.
“The estate is covered in beautiful flowers and with flowers you get butterflies. It really is colourful and alive with beauty — how England used to be.
“But cross the road to the New Forest and there is none of that. All flowers and plants have been eaten.
“In Scotland, where red deer are out of control, trees don’t get the chance to grow. It is a wasteland.
“Deer are effectively wiping out each other — there are now so many that they are starving to death, without enough food to go around.
“But starvation is a much slower, more painful death than being culled.
“In an ideal world, we would reintroduce species such as lynx, which would bring down the deer population.
“But there is such a resistance to that, often from farmers concerned for their livestock, that it won’t happen.
“The only other solution is a cull, which will also be difficult because deer are mostly on public land. You can’t go around shooting in places where the public are.
“This means there has to be a centralised policy, which would safely organise a cull.
“We simply cannot go on as we are — for our sake as well as that of the deer.”
In the same article, Yvonne Taylor of PETA wrote, “CULLING – actually, let’s call it what it really is… killing – is a cruel, ineffective way to resolve conflict with deer.
“Deer are smart and regulate their number according to available food, water and shelter.
“Killing them just means those that remain flourish – the food supply grows and their number increases.
“We will never achieve ecological harmony through the barrel of a gun. As long as an area remains attractive and accessible to deer, those that survive a cull will breed to replace the ones killed.
“It creates a perpetual killing cycle.
“Humane methods – including habitat modification, reducing food supplies and deterrents such as motion detectors and repellents – are the only way to keep numbers down.”
What’s your opinion of this story and of the greater issue of culling animals?
Mine is this; when will we humans learn that nature is not ours to manipulate? We’re lodgers here, not homeowners.
We seem to only remember that when we’re reminded by natural disasters such as tsunamis. No matter what we may or may not do to affect the planet we live on, and those who live here with us, nature will have the final say, often ferociously.
However, on a lighter note, here’s a reminder of Chris on Secrets of Our Living Planet…