25 January 2006

Lone deer traumatised after herd culled


**The Forest Service needs culled

The young deer has been hiding in undergrowth

A young deer has been left alone and traumatised after the rest of its herd was killed during a cull.

The Forest Service believed it had killed the entire group, but the deer was spotted a week later.

It has been taking cover in the undergrowth at Seskinore Forest Park in County Tyrone.

Some local people are furious that the seven-strong herd has been culled.

The man who established the deer herd in the 1970s, former Forest Service employee Jim Whiteside, said the young deer has been left traumatised.

"We are quite pleased that one managed to escape the cull," he said.

"Although at the moment it is very traumatised, it will eventually calm down again provided that it is left.

Resident Pamela Fyffe: "I just couldn't believe it"

"It would have been bonded to its family group, which are now gone."

The reason given for the cull was that a fence was a danger to the safety and welfare of the animals. The herd was then killed.

However, members of the community said they believed Seskinore forest was being run down by the Forest Service.

'Take over responsibility'

Local farmer Roy McCracken said the forest was a natural asset for the community.

"The government at the minute is asking us as farmers to be the custodians of the countryside - surely this is an example where they could have led by example.

"To me it just doesn't seem right that they can come in here and annihilate a herd of deer like that."

The deer in Seskinore Forest were a popular local attraction, and the community had been hoping to take over responsibility for looking after them.

The forest was home to a herd of Japanese Sika deer for the past 30 years.

Many people took video footage while feeding the deer

They were a popular attraction, with many people visiting the forest to watch and feed them.

News of the cull has caused a great deal of distress for many people.

Local resident Pamela Fyffe said: "I just couldn't believe it - I cried my heart out yesterday because of it.

"They were pets - they were not wild animals. They were an attraction - everyone came to feed the deer and have a walk around."

People are now hoping that the one survivor of the cull will be allowed to live.

The Department of Agriculture said that although it initially intended to cull all the deer, in light of recent representations, the Forest Service would look for an alternative home for the deer that's left as a matter of urgency.

It said the decision to stop managing a deer herd did not affect its commitment to managing Seskinore as a sustainable forest.

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