Junta announces cull of 1,767 natural park deer

LAST UPDATED: 1 Apr, 2009 @ 13:33
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Junta announces cull of 1,767 natural park deer

Plan will “wipe out” deer population of Baza

REGIONAL government officials have announced a deer cull that will lead to the animals’ extinction in the Sierra de Baza, environmental groups claim.

The cull, which has been named the Sierra de Baza Deer Management Plan by the Junta de Andalucía, aims to cut the numbers of deer in the natural park from 1,800 to just 33 over the next four years.

Not only are stags targeted but does and their fawn in a move that has angered local environmental groups. “The Junta is going to wipe out the entire population of deer from the natural park under this scheme,” said the President of the Asociación Proyecto Sierra de Baza, José Ángel Rodríguez Sánchez.

The regional government is concerned over the numbers of the animal. Officials claim the density in some parts of the natural park is six animals per square kilometre. According to Junta estimates, a further 900 deer are born each year. Gerardo Sánchez of the environment department defended the cull. “We are trying to keep numbers of deer at a constant and stop them increasing year by year,” he said.

However, Señor Rodríguez Sánchez fears illegal hunting could decimate the animals’ numbers.

“Instead of trying to find a balanced solution, the regional government has opted for the most condemnable: the unsustainable hunting of deer.

“On top of the Junta’s cull, you have to add the deer that are killed each year by poachers,” Señor Rodríguez Sánchez said.

Numbers of the animal in the natural park have fallen in recent years. From 9,000 deer in 2003, the Junta de Andalucía says there are now only 1,800 in the area. However, locals believe the true number is far less than the official figures.

The cull began in at the start of the deer hunting season in October 2006. By the time the season ends on January 31, 382 deer will have been culled (133 males, 220 females and 29 fawns).

The figures increase over the following seasons. In 2007/2008, 418 deer will be killed (146, 240 and 32). In 2008/2009 the figure will rise to 460 (161, 264 and 35) while in final season of the cull 507 deer will be killed (178, 290 and 39).

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