The venison we use in our pies is not a result of shooting for sport. We utilise the meat from carefully selected animals which are culled as part of the deer management work we undertake. The animals know of no stress and all work is carrried out in a humane and ethical way.
Truly 'wild habitats' no longer exist in Britain. We use the countryside to produce food crops, graze animals, grow trees and for a wide range of leisure activities. We build roads through the countryside to link towns and cities and our needs generally take precedence over those of deer and other wildlife. Animals have learned to adapt to the areas left to them and to utilise parks and gardens as the natural countryside dwindles. The urban fox is well known, but the muntjac, our smallest deer, is almost as common in some urban areas.
Protecting deer and the countryside
It is important to manage the deer population to ensure their welfare, to protect them from starvation due to overgrazing and from death and injury in road traffic accidents (the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project estimates that there are between 42,000 and 74,000 accidents involving deer across the country each year). It is equally important to prevent deer from causing unacceptable damage to crops and trees and to protect other creatures sharing their habitat from the results of overgrazing.
Although an accurate assessment is difficult, the UK deer population is thought to be up to 2m*, more than at any time since the last ice age. Six deer species live in the wild in Britain. Two, red and roe deer, are indigenous (native). Fallow deer were introduced by the Phoenicians or the Romans, while sika, muntjac and Chinese water deer were all introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and it is escapees from deer parks that now populate the British countryside. The species differ in their geographical distribution, numbers, growth rate, behaviour and environmental impact.
In the absence of a natural predator, sustainable management of deer usually means that they have to be 'culled'. Already, an estimated 350,000* deer are culled in the UK every year. Despite this, and the high number killed in road accidents, the population continues to grow with increasing environmental and economic damage and additional pressure on the health of the existing stock.
It is important for deer welfare that culling is done efficiently and humanely by people who understand exactly what they are doing.
* Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) Note 325 Feb 2009
In order to protect the welfare of female deer and their young and male deer while their antlers are growing, the UK operates a close season system that specifies when the culling of different species may not take place. However, there may be circumstances where culling has to take place during the close season, such as the need to deal with injured or sick deer.
* There is no close season for muntjac as they breed throughout the year.
This information was sourced from the British Deer Society