Deer cull takes place at prestigious estate
A cull of deer has been carried out by the National Trust on a prestigious Suffolk estate near Bury St Edmunds.
Bosses at the Ickworth estate say the work is essential to manage the deer population in the woodland, with the two-day cull taking place on Friday and Saturday.
A notice at Ickworth read: “Although you may hear gunshots, do not be alarmed but please take note of any warning signs.
“Fully qualified and experienced deer managers are carrying out the work. Deer will NOT be lost from this woodland and numbers will be kept at sustainable levels.”
Tim Watson, general manager at Ickworth for the National Trust, said the work takes place on a limited number of days during the winter.
“Ickworth is home to a designated ancient woodland and is a county wildlife site, and so in caring for this woodland, managing the deer population is an essential part of our work,” he said.
“For a limited number of days during the winter, we will be carrying out work to manage the population of deer on the estate.
“The fallow and muntjac deer at Ickworth are a wild, free roaming herd of around 250 and travel widely in this landscape.
“Deer have no natural predators here and so the population grows rapidly every year.”
Mr Watson added that a large deer population can cause damage to the woodland, which threatens the survival of other animals at Ickworth.
“Too many deer can strip a woodland of saplings and new growth on coppiced tress as well as wild flowers and woodland plants,” he said.
“These all provide essential habitats for nesting birds and small mammals, whose survival is then threatened if there isn’t strong and healthy woodland to support them.
“Unchecked numbers of deer can also destroy their own food sources, putting them at risk of disease and malnutrition.
“We work with highly skilled, licenced deer stalkers to carry out this work and continue to monitor the health and size of the herd throughout the year.”