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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Sellafield deer cull backlash grows

Thousands of people are demanding the deer threatened with death in a controversial cull are saved.

Sellafield deer protest photo
Ged McNamara, left, and Gayle McCrickerd

Pressure is today mounting on Sellafield bosses not to start shooting animals trapped between security fences at the atomic complex.

Animal rights and anti-nuclear activists protested against the cull at the site’s gates yesterday. And support for their cause is growing – from all over the world.

Three online petitions demanding a change of heart from nuclear chiefs have so far gathered nearly 3,700 signatures.

Strong local support is also growing with parish councillors in nearby Seascale meeting veterinary experts and independent advisors from the Deer Initiative this week to challenge the decision.

Between five and 15 deer are thought to be threatened with death.

Sellafield bosses say they’ve been advised that killing the deer is the most humane thing to do because of the way they are trapped. Opponents argue the animals could be relocated.

A group of about 15 placard-carrying protesters spent about two hours outside Sellafield chanting “free the deer”.

Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL) organised the protest, which was set to coincide with the 2pm shift change at Sellafield.

Marianne Birkby, of RFL, said: “There were people of all ages hereand the large number who have said they are against this cull.

“We saw a lot of traffic going in and out of the site and many were putting their thumbs up or sounding their horn in support of us. It seems after talking to many people that they believe the decision to cull the deer is an appalling one.”

She added that protesters wanted Sellafield bosses to release the deer by relocating the fence which allows them to reach their normal woodland territory.

“It would really be a piece of goodwill if the bosses listened to the people and opened up the fence,” Mrs Birkby said.

Suzy Kenyon, of Respect for Wildlife, part of Animal Aid, was among those at yesterday’s demonstration. She said: “We are trying to raise the profile of this horrendous act.”

Sellafield has been advised by the Government-funded Deer Initiative that the cull is the most humane way to remove the deer from between the fences.

Seascale parish councillor David Moore said he and colleagues needed to be convinced that culling the deer was the best route to take.

“We want to be taken through the whole process and try to understand how Sellafield has reached this outcome,” he added.

“We want to question these experts because at the end of the day Sellafield would be foolish not to listen to public opinion which is strongly in favour of (saving) the deer.”

Sellafield insists it takes seriously its responsibility to manage wildlife safely, seeking expert advice when dealing with animals at the site.

A statement added: “All the alternative approaches available to a secure nuclear licensed site have been considered and/or attempted before deciding to cull the small number of deer at Sellafield.”

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