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Countryside Alliance says BBC story is ‘misleading’

The CA has slammed the national broadcaster for quoting PETA in its ‘absurd’ article about deer management in the Ashdown Forest.

The Countryside Alliance has criticised a BBC news story about the deer population in Ashdown Forest in Sussex, in which a countryside manager claimed deer numbers must be “sustainably managed” or there could be a knock-on effect for other species. Labelling the BBC report “absurd”, the CA says its information is “unbalanced and misleading”. 

In the original article, the BBC quoted a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) UK spokesman as an authoritative voice on deer management. The Alliance says the remarks gave the “false impression that deer management is both cruel and ineffective, which is tantamount to misinformation”. 

The deer population in Ashdown Forest is estimated to be three times higher than it should be. Management through culling is widely accepted by conservationists as an effective and humane method of necessary population management. 

The CA accused the BBC of being “unacceptably one-sided” — a breach of the BBC’s own guidelines — in its initial report and urged the broadcaster not to use PETA for quotes regarding matters of this nature in the future. The original article has now been amended to include comment from the Alliance’s shooting campaign manager Roger Seddon. 

“It remains disappointing that the article was visible in its original, unbalanced form for a full day before its correction… That the BBC considered a fringe group like PETA as being appropriate for unchallenged comment on an article on deer management is cause for great concern and we have urged them to approach the numerous conservation groups that exist who can provide expertise on the subject instead,” said Mr Seddon. 

Professional stalker Chris Dalton told ST: “I get frustrated when individuals or organisations who clearly have no grasp of the facts are quoted, and this seems to commonly occur when discussing deer control. There is nothing ineffective or cruel about deer management; deer managers spend a great deal of time assessing numbers [and] the overall health of the flora and fauna present before any reduction in deer numbers takes place, and then it will be done swiftly and humanely.”