Friday, 25 September 2015


You're lucky to see these animals. On the 450 acres of Blacka there may at any time be just a few, say 5 or 6. They tend to keep away from people and spend a lot of time hidden in the most secluded areas, possibly emerging at night or around dawn. The stag above was surprised this morning and quickly ran off into the trees edging the thickest woodland. A few years ago numbers of deer seemed to be growing but there has been something of a decline recently. Roe deer had been increasing until earlier this year but it's now some months since my last sight of them.

To continue the theme of this recent post, deer have no security here because those who make the conservation decisions do not see them as having a role in their plans. To make this clear, for the managers deer are expendable, dispensable, unnecessary, even a nuisance.  Some people might be surprised at this. But we should remember that the major features of their plans were formulated long before they were aware that large wild animals were beginning to move onto Blacka. However delighted the public were that this was happening those from Natural England and the conservation charities saw it differently. While they may have liked to portray themselves as "creating a landscape for wildlife" and even call themselves "wildlife trusts", this has always been a promotional contrivance. Their real intention is to make the land conform to a set of standards enabling Natural England (an agency dominated by farming interests) to say it is in 'good agricultural condition'. Hence the cows and sheep. More than one conservation manager has privately admitted to me that wild animals like deer are actually an inconvenience. Their office-born ideas are put under threat by wild animals whose freedom and unpredictability cannot be factored into work programmes and management plans.

That could happen with any wild animal or wild vegetation. Control from above is what it's about. Hence wild animals are no less vulnerable on a nature reserve than elsewhere. The plans of conservation have already put wildlife itself in danger. One example is the decision to spray with weedkiller a large area of the moors: the killing off of the vegetation allowed tasty new growth to appear which attracted the deer onto that one place when they would otherwise have wandered over a wider area. A drastic solution was then implemented.

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