HomeMoral DutySavage Report Conclusions - Nov 2006

Savage Report Conclusions - Nov 2006

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Extracts from the Conclusions of the Report to the Council of the National Trust by the Deer Hunting Working Party - March 1993 – (Savage Report) - The Conservation and Management of Red Deer in the West Country.

2. We endorse the words of the Southampton Report: The most important problem which needs to be addressed at this time in terms of the future of the deer populations and their management, is therefore not the physical method by which any necessary cull is taken, but the way in which the overall cull is co-ordinated and monitored; some such co-ordination is essential for the effects of current deer control measures to be assessed, so that appropriate action may be taken in response to any substantial changes in density or population structure.

5. The absence of an effective deer management scheme is damaging to the Trust's policy of preservation and conservation, particularly because of the lack of natural regeneration in important ancient woodlands.

6. There is a danger that polarisation of thought on whether or not deer should be hunted on National Trust land will divert attention from what we regard as the more important issue of proper deer management and habitat conservation.

7. Our proposal for a deer management scheme will require the active co- operation of landowners and farm tenants in order to estimate reliable population numbers, to set and allocate overall cull targets to the hunt and accredited stalkers. Such a scheme will also require a structure for decision making, so that the management of the red deer population is directed towards specific objectives.

8. To achieve such a deer management scheme legislation (on the lines of the Scottish example) may well be desirable. If insufficient support for the scheme is received from landowners and farmers, legislation will become essential to the success of the scheme and to permit action against poaching. The Scottish example shows that legislation without adequate funding fails to achieve the necessary results. Any legislation must take these factors into account.

9. Whether or not legislation is introduced, it is vital that such a scheme receives support and co-operation from landowners, farmers and Hunts, English Nature, Exmoor National Park, the local authorities and bodies such as the Forestry Commission, the League Against Cruel Sports and the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation.

10. Considered solely as a mechanism for culling, the role of the hunt is important, but not vital. However to achieve the necessary active co-operation from landowners and farmers, which is essential to the welfare of the deer, the role of the hunt is of critical importance.

12. Apart from arguments on ethical or moral issues and on questions of cruelty (which do not form part of our Terms of Reference) the only evidence we have received to support a ban on hunting on Trust property, related to habitat damage and access problems caused by followers of the hunt.

The evidence we have received shows that a ban on hunting on National Trust land:

Would be likely to cause a breakdown of the present co-operation between landowners and tenants, not only in relation to the culling of deer, but also in allowing deer on their land.

Would result in increased damage on Trust farms due to deer congregating in non-hunting areas, leading to claims against the Trust for compensation.

Would have adverse economic and social consequences for the rural communities on Exmoor and the Quantocks. These might be small regionally, but could have a highly disruptive effect locally.

Would on the Quantocks result in the cessation of the Quantock Hunt and without the installation of an effective management scheme, the welfare of the red deer would be endangered.

Would alienate the Trust from other landowners, its tenant farmers and from rural communities. It would make it much harder for the Trust to carry out its duties of preservation and conservation - not only in relation to deer but in the much wider context of the Trust's overall responsibilities. Good husbandry lies at the heart of the Trusts conservation objectives and the implementation of good husbandry has always depended on voluntary co-operation between the Trust, its tenant farmers and other land-users. A ban on hunting would destroy confidence and goodwill and would cause many people to see the Trust as an antagonist, not a friend, of the countryside and its needs. We regard this as the most serious implication of a ban by the Trust on hunting.

Postscript July 2002 and April 2005 – The formation of the Exmoor and District Deer Management Society and the Quantock Deer Management and Conservation Group, followed the sentiments of these Savage Report Conclusions. Subsequent hunting bans on National Trust and Forestry Commission land for spurious welfare reasons, have been an unmitigated disaster for all interests, substantiating the Savage Report warnings. The adverse consequences are clearly described by the National Trusts stalker, in his submission to Lord Burns. Government consultations have failed to address the issues, so thoroughly thought through within the Savage Report. As a consequence, the Hunting Act clearly promotes cruelty and prevents kindness, and threatens all that the Savage Report sought to achieve for our wild red deer.


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