MORE than 20 deer have been slaughtered in Aberdeen to make way for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
The deer were shot in order to plant new tree saplings at the city’s Tullos Hill, despite heavy objections from environmentalists and local campaigners.
The tree planting scheme is part of the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods initiative to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as well as Aberdeen City Council’s Tree for Every Citizen project.
Forestry experts Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) claimed the deer population in the area was too large and had to be brought down to a manageable level to allow the 80,000 saplings to thrive.
Details released under Freedom of Information yesterday revealed that 22 animals had so far been killed.
Animal Concern secretary John Robins, wrote a personal letter to the Queen, in the hope she would intervene in the mass deer cull.
He said: “The Queen is patron of the RSPCA and the owner of large areas of deer forest on her Balmoral Estate south-west of Aberdeen.
“I sincerely hope Her Majesty will not be pleased to hear that deer are needlessly being killed as part of a project to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
“Aberdeen City Council has refused to listen to thousands of local voters, at least three community councils and numerous animal welfare and conservation bodies who are all opposed to the cull.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said he could not confirm whether a protest letter had been received by the Queen.
He said: “All letters are responded to personally and we don’t comment on whether the Queen has received any items.
“Undoubtedly if the Queen has received any letters about any issue they will be responded to.”
Neil Cooney, ward councillor for Kincorth and Loirston, said the latest deer call was a “tragedy”.
He added: “They are hiding behind this excuse about having a legal obligation to keep deer numbers under control, but there would be no issue if it was not for the tree-planting scheme.
“Many of the campaigners were convinced that this has been happening, but this is a sad moment for us, and a sad, sad day for Aberdeen to be making headlines for something like this.”
SNH courted controversy last year when it said that landowners were to be allowed to shoot deer at night in a bid to cut dangerous collisions on Scottish roads.
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said that a thermal imaging study carried out by SNH in February last year showed there were about 29 deer on Tullos Hill, but that the population would fluctuate.
SNH said that eight deer per 247 acres could be sustained, while the area at Tullos was about 148 acres.
A spokesman added: “It is a statutory requirement for the council to manage deer on all of its land and this would be taking place on Tullos Jill whether there was a tree planning scheme or not.
“The roe deer population on Tullos Hill was assessed as being much higher than the land could support. There is very little variety of vegetation growing and deer suffered as a result.
“Aberdeen City Council’s ongoing deer management programme is carried out in accordance with all relevant legislation and established best practice.”
It emerged earlier today that a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is to receive a fine for its role in a mass cull of deer at Mar Lodge estate at the Cairngorm National Park.
The conservation project, which has cost almost £800,000, was designed to protect Caledonian pine trees on the estate from red deer. But documents have revealed that the measures have not resulted in the amount of tree regeneration officials had hoped for.
Experts had advised NTS which has run the 72,000-acre estate since buying it from American billionaire John Kluge in 1995, to protect the area with a fence, but the charity opted to order the mass cull instead.