Date: April 10, 2017
Source: University of Nottingham
Wild deer in Britain should be hunted for venison to drastically reduce their populations and support the re-emergence of our native woodland birds, according to an academic at The University of Nottingham.
The comments follow the publication of a new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology which suggests that huge deer populations in England are damaging the important natural habitat which many ground-nesting woodland birds require.
Dr Markus Eichhorn in the University's School of Life Sciences, an expert in ecology, said: "Deer populations are at extraordinarily high levels due to a combination of factors including the absence of large predators, a decline in hunting and the autumn sowing of crops that produce winter food for foraging animals.
"It is clear from our research that if we want to encourage more woodland birds then we need to take action to restore the woodland structures they require but in many areas it will need a drastic reduction in deer to have any real impact.
"We should not think of it in terms of a cull. We already eat venison in Britain but a large proportion of that is farmed meat. If wild-caught deer appeared on our menus or in the local butchers it would encourage people to eat venison as readily as beef or lamb and would help conservation in our woodland areas."
The experts at Nottingham were commissioned the Government department Defra in 2008 following a call for consortia which could study the causes behind the decline of woodland birds such as the nightingale, marsh tit, willow tit and lesser spotted woodpecker in the UK.