In 2021, the deer population in the United Kingdom has exploded. With the pandemic, deer hunting decreased and the market for venison reduced thanks to pandemic-induced restaurant closures. Now experts are debating a cull of the deer, the New York Times reported.

Scientists note that deer are decimating plant life that other species eat. “Heavy browsing and grazing can impact severely on woodland plants and heath land, and salt marsh habitats,” said Martin Fowlie, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. These changes can affect the bird population.

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Some are advocating for open hunting to help reduce deer’s impact on crops, woodlands, and marshes. But animal organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), are against the cull.

“We will never achieve ecological harmony through the barrel of a gun,” Elisa Allen, the director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Britain, said in an interview with the Times. “Killing them off only causes their population to rebound as lethal initiatives result in a spike in the food supply, accelerating the breeding of survivors. If deer numbers must be reduced,” she says, “the key is to leave the deer in peace and target their food sources by trimming back low-hanging tree branches, keeping grasses cut short and shrouding saplings with corrugated plastic tubes or sleeves, deer netting or mesh.”

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