THE CARNIVORES CONUNDRUM AND WILD DEER
After visiting our neighbouring Wanstead park and chatting to Jordan, the game keeper there, I found out that we only have two native species of deer in this country. The Red deer and the Roe deer. The other species we have roaming around include Fallow, Sika, Muntjac and Chinese water deer have all been introduced to this country artificially (perhaps that last one is less surprising). Though these breeds differ in their general geography, abundance and breeding habits, it is said that all deer species are more widespread in the wild than at any other time in the last millennium. Various factors have made this possible such as milder winters and a decrease in the number of natural predators.
All this makes for interesting reading as a carnivore. There is a veritable whirlwind of facts, stats and ethical debate about the consumption of meat on a global level which has seen many of my friends and family think about how much meat they eat and even become vegetarian. This seems fair given the amount of CO2 emissions the cattle industry is supposed to be responsible for, not to mention the vagaries of animal welfare to your average British shopper.
It’s therefore worth considering the potential benefits of eating certain species of wild game. With the aforementioned lack of predators, human control of deer numbers has become an important conservation role. At a recent count deer numbers were in the region of 2 million. Around 350,000 are killed per year and around 74,000 are killed due to road accidents. Despite these two factors deer numbers continue to increase year on year. Muntjac are the most prolific of breeders as, unlike our other species, they have no specific season and breed all year round.
So you maybe thinking, ‘So far, so what?…’. Well Deer, of all varieties can have an adverse impact on woodland vegetation. Their favourite meal details herbs, shrubs and young trees. The forestry commission has published in the past that densities of deer in upland habitats should be around 4-7 per km/sq to ensure adequate regeneration of the surrounding habitat. However, recent research suggests that if left unchecked the deer population could grow well beyond this. Taking this information as given it seems to me that in order to conserve our native wild habitat it could be viewed as a wise move to eat these pests and help keep the numbers down.
At Blackhand we’re looking into making a product using Muntjac. Once we’re happy with the recipe we’ll put it on the webshop and you can make your own minds up.