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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Anti-nuclear campaigners in Cumbria are hoping to take their fight to halt the controversial deer cull

ANTI-nuclear campaigners in Cumbria are hoping to take their fight to halt the controversial deer cull at Sellafield to Whitehall.

In just over a week thousands have put their name to an online petition launched after it was revealed the group of trapped wild roe deer would be shot.

Radiation Free Lakeland is urging Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron to lobby the government in a bid to get Sellafield bosses to change their minds.

Campaigners have asked Mr Farron to hand the petition to energy secretary Ed Davey.

The roe deer, which are penned between security fences, are to be culled on advice from experts at the Deer Initiative Partnership. But campaigners claim the cull is “inhumane and unethical’, taking place during “closed season” when the deer are heavily pregnant.

Marianne Birkby, on behalf of the Radiation Free Lakeland group, said: “The fence at the woodland should be taken down and the original fence reinforced, rather than having double fencing enclosing the woodland and trapping the deer.”

She added: “We understand the need for Sellafield to routinely cull animals on site in an effort to contain the spread of radiation, but plant bosses have said there is no risk of contamination.

“As well as preventing the need for a cull, this would be a goodwill gesture and would benefit the whole ecosystem of the woodland.”

Sellafield’s veterinary consultant, Peter Green, has defended the company’s decision to cull the wild deer. He said it was the best way to remove the animals in the absence of a suitable alternative.

“Considerable previous experience of catching wild roe deer has led to the conclusion that if attempts are made to catch or trap these deer they will suffer considerable stress and a very high risk of serious or fatal injury,” said Mr Green.

He added that such an outcome would cause “great suffering” and be a breach of animal welfare legislation.

The petition can be viewed at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-sellafield-deer.

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