An animal welfare charity claims Woburn Abbey Deer Park should be ‘asked tough questions’ surrounding the killing of their deer by trophy hunters.
The League Against Cruel Sports, who along with local group Bedfordshire Against Trophy Hunting (BATH) released evidence that hunters were being sent to the Park, which is owned by the same company as Woburn Safari Park.
In their response Woburn Deer Park said that deer were killed as part of an ‘annual cull’.
Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Breeding deer with giant antlers so they can be shot for money by hunters for ‘fun’ is something that most members of the public will find grotesque.
“The culling argument doesn’t stack up. They breed the deer – so if there’s too many, stop breeding them, it’s that simple.”
BATH revealed the link with Woburn after contacting the tour company, Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours.
The company’s sales director confirmed details of deer being available to be shot, saying that ‘Woburn Park is ideal for this and we can do Pere David and red stag as well.’
Chris added: “Woburn say they are not associated with Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours, which offers these hunting packages – but they don’t deny outright that they allow trophy hunters to kill their deer.
“Anyone who loves animals, including those they see at the Safari Park, should ask them some tough questions: do you raise money by allowing trophy hunters to kill your deer?
“It’s shameful that trophy hunting is alive and well in Britain. Killing animals for fun and posing with the corpse of their victim is a vile and sickening activity which has no place in a modern and compassionate society.”
A spokesperson from Bedfordshire Against Trophy Hunting, said: “We were horrified to discover trophy hunting was taking place in our own backyard and being marketed internationally on the novelty of being able to shoot ‘rare and exotic’ deer breeds.
“Woburn Abbey Deer Park breeds red stags with world record standard trophy antlers – some of these poor beasts are then shot in exchange for thousands of pounds each.
“This is the same deer park that proudly trumpets what it has done to save the Père David breed from extinction but now allows hunters to shoot them.”
A spokesperson for Woburn said: “Woburn Abbey Deer Park are responsible for the care and management of the 1600 deer within the Park.
“Our key aim is to maintain a healthy population and ensure each of the 9 deer species is cared for to the highest possible standards.
“At Woburn there is a highly dedicated and professional team who oversee all areas of management of the deer to ensure they can be enjoyed by all who visit Woburn. One of the most important management aspects of the Deer Park is the annual cull.
“The cull is overseen by trained professionals to ensure a healthy and sustainable population of deer within the park.
“The cull is based on continued census counts and aims to improve age dynamics and diversity maintaining the population density at a level suitable to ensure the continued health and welfare of all the deer within the park.
“The culled animals are then sold as venison to local and national markets where it enters the food chain as a healthy and sustainable food product.
“Regarding the shooting of Wallabies and Soay Sheep in the Bedfordshire area, this is offered by an independent company called Diana Hunting, with whom the Woburn Estate is not affiliated.”
The LBO asked Woburn if non-affiliated firms were allowed to shoot on their land and they refused to add any further comment.
Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours also offer trips to kill lions, elephants and numerous other animals around the world.
Red deer stags in the UK are being offered to trophy hunters for up £9,000 a head – with the price depending on the size of the stag.
Wallabies and a species of sheep called Soay, both of which can be seen at Woburn Safari Park, are also on offer to trophy hunters visiting the county. Soay rams are being offered up at £600 per head and ewes at £150.