In just over a fortnight stalking season will open and roe deer had better watch their tails but I was dismayed to read about hunters bidding to kill a very rare white roe deer.
Kevin Stuart holds the hunting rights to the estate at Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway, where the deer lives, and he may profit by thousands of pounds just for the death of this one white deer, because of it’s rarity.
This issue has caused quite a stir, with shooting enthuiasts suggesting it is lawful so people should mind their own business and wildlife lovers naming the animal Pearl in a bid to humanise it and gain support.
The Dumfries and Galloway Standard quotes Charlie Jacoby, editor of Sporting Rifle magazine, as saying: “A white roebuck is extraordinary, a once-in-a-decade deer. Anyone who loves deer stalking will think about trying to shoot it.”
To wildlife lovers it is thing of rare beauty and should be cherished as such but to hunters it is something unique to kill. They may get pleasure from killing roe deer but if everyone bags one it is hardly something to crow about but shooting a rare white deer would be a sporting man’s boast for a long time to come.
Why save this deer and not the others? Simply because it is so rare, it is not an albino but a natural white deer. This isn’t about stopping Mr Stuart from managing the land or controlling deer numbers but about the rarity of this animal. The estimated numbers of roe deer in the UK is over 800,000 so a couple every decade makes this animal very special indeed.
I’m not a hunter myself but do accept that deer numbers have to be controlled. However I find it astonishing that Mr Stuart cares so little for the local economy and is being so short sighted. Perhaps he doesn’t care because he is a businessman from Lancashire and works in engineering rather than living and working in the area?
The deer can only be shot once but as a tourist attaction it can bring in profits for the length of it’s life. That in turn will add to the local economy and support small business in the area.
Personally if I were Mr Stuart I would be talking to wildlife groups and local government to see how I could maximise profits for years to come.
It’s like fine art that is bought privately and hidden away in a gaudy mansion for only one person to see. This deer, if shot, will no doubt be stuffed and hung on someones private office wall, depriving everyone else of the opportunity to see it alive and in it’s natural habitat.
This issue has even prompted MSP Elaine Murray to get involved and try to stop the auction through the Scottish Parliament.
She told the BBC: “It is unacceptable that an animal’s life should be auctioned to the highest bidder simply on the ground that it is very rare.”
“Dumfries and Galloway attracts visitors because of its rare creatures, red squirrels, golden eagles, red kites, and this very rare white buck could be another attraction for visitors who appreciate and care for wildlife.”
There is more on the white deer row in the Times Online.
What do you think, should the animal be used to boost the local tourist economy or hold an auction for hunters to kill a rare white deer for pleasure?