AN ANIMAL rights campaigner criticised the "disgusting" decision to cull deer at Grafton Wood.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, which owns the woodland, has made the decision to carry out a cull because wild deer are thought to be harming plants and trees there. 

A spokesman said that "high populations of wild deer are causing significant damage to the ecology and conservation of ancient woodlands."

Elizabeth Williams, from St John's in Worcester, who campaigns for animal rights across the country said: "I think it is disgusting, they have not consulted their members at all.

"I find it awful that a trust which is meant to protect its animals are killing them, rather than controlling numbers in a more humane method.

"How can a wildlife trust be shooting its animals?

"The wildlife trust are supposed to conserve its animals, it so awful what the trust is doing and I believe they have a lot to answer for."

The woodland, in North Piddle near Flyford Flavell, was closed to visitors for deer control on Tuesday (January 23), as well as dates in November and December.

It will also be closed to the public on Thursday February 8, Tuesday February 20 and Thursday March 15.

A Worcestershire Wildlife Trust spokesman said: "We recognise and respect the concerns that have been expressed over deer control on Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves.

"With no natural predators, high populations of wild deer are causing significant damage to the ecology and conservation of ancient woodlands, such as Grafton Wood, so we have had to take the difficult decision to control their numbers.

"As conservationists, we only act when there are no alternatives and in accordance with a rigorous policy and procedure.

"Some people have raised the potential use of a contraceptive as an alternative to culling.

"This may be an option in the future but at present none are licensed for use with wild deer populations in the UK.

"The killing of wild animals is regarded by the trust as a “last resort” measure to deal with legal requirements to control pests and/or serious conservation management problems.

"However, the trust recognises that in some cases short term and local pest control may need to be undertaken.

"Any killing will be done legally and by the most humane practical method available.

"The aim is to achieve a self-regulating system that controls the pest species at an acceptable level and will be frequently reviewed.

"The same guidelines apply in the wider environment and on trust reserves."