The Epping Forest forum has seen a rapid and positive response to our objection to deer hunting in and around the forest. Recently and fairly quietly the decision to award an outside contractor to “manage” the deer was taken by the relevant committee in charge of Epping Forest at the City of London. Now when I say “manage” I mean kill. This subject is quite a sensitive one and for many years has been dealt with “in house” by local keepers who know the area, know the people and most importantly know the deer. It has been part of overall herd management and handled professionally and sensitively.
The recent contract was awarded to the Capreolus club a members club who pride themselves on killing animals for sport not just in the UK but they also arrange trips around the world such as their hunting trips to Croatia to hunt bears and to Africa to hunt buffalo and Madrid to hunt Spanish Ibex amongst other “bespoke” trips
However this is dressed up it is hunting for sport or in my personal opinion killing for fun.
Now in what was obviously deemed a good decision the committee in charge of Epping Forest have awarded a contract to this “club” to manage the deer on Epping Forest buffer lands for revenue generating reasons and to keep the deer numbers down.
Recently I have been receiving reports of incidents such as people witnessing a deer being disemboweled, seen people walking about with guns, had people entering their land with weapons and I have been informed that shooting has taken place well outside of the dedicated areas. Here lies one of the main points of concern. Whilst the City have indeed clarified that this sport is to be restricted to buffer land (that does have public rights of way , bridle paths, borders roads and bordering fairly substantial mobile home sites) The club has been portraying a different story until this week when they have been told to adjust their website.
They have been marketing the northern parts of Epping Forest as their exclusive right to hunt. Not buffer land but the Northern part of Epping Forest. (see pictures below)
Now for a professional contractor to make such a huge mistake to me seems incredible and I would have serious concerns that with such a sensitive and high risk issue that carries huge responsibility with public safety that a contractor would ensure utmost clarity to all involved as to where you can and can not shoot, stalk and disembowel animals. Its not a small oversight and not a little error, their website, literature has all had this on for however long their contract has been running of which was August as far as I am aware.
One could also question how comes nobody from the City of London noticed until it was pointed out this week that the northern part of the “peoples forest” was being marketed as an exclusive hunting ground by one of their contractors?
We are not talking about a little bit of tree surgery here, not some signs being installed but a free reign for people to wander around shooting high velocity weapons in areas with public rights of way. How on earth has this been missed especially when people have been reporting incidents?
Have the deer, a symbol of Epping forest and protected within the Epping Forest act been shot within forest boundaries where they are an ornament meant to be preserved?
If the people out killing deer for club sports are not completely up to speed with herd management and manage to kill the wrong deer within the hierarchy of the herd the likely result is that the herd will spread out in panic. Deer are not stupid and will rapidly realise areas they are being stalked and move into areas that appear safer to them which is most probably deeper into the main forest. This will inevitably lead to a need to soon start shooting deer within the forest itself and will lead to further problems.
This whole idea appears to me to have been ill considered, its implications to public safety, the implications to the deer and the message that is being sent out by “conservators” of the forest who on one hand in one area protect the deer and in another contract people to shoot them. Epping Forest is not a country estate it is the people’s forest and we are proud of the deer. Management by local keepers who know their job has always been accepted as a necessary evil and they have carried out their duties well to the public point of view. Hunting for sport and revenue is a completely different subject. One that I am opposed to.
I am awaiting confirmation of a time and date to take our objections to the Guild hall for the attention of the Epping Forest open spaces committee for their consideration. If you wish to sign a petition against this please click here