TWO jokers have angered animal lovers by feeding a deer a 1,100-calorie junk food lunch – washed down with Irn Bru.
The brothers, who have asked not to be named, posted a picture of the wild deer drinking Irn Bru near in the Highlands.
The image generated so much anger it was quickly taken offline.
But the defiant duo have now released pictures and video of the deer enjoying the entire lunch: two packets of McCoys cheese and onion crisps, a Mars bar, a Crunchie, and a bottle of Scotland’s other national drink.
They insist they were helping to keep a starving animal alive amid snowy, freezing conditions.
The deer dining session happened near Cluanie Inn, Glenmoriston, about four miles north-west of Fort Augustus.
Thinking they had done a good deed, the brothers, 50 and 52, posted a picture of the deer drinking Irn Bru.
But they were branded “disgusting” by outraged animal lovers for giving a fizzy drink to a wild animal.
One Facebook commenter said: “That’s disgusting, you can’t just feed animals fizzy drinks. You can’t feed chocolate to dogs, what if it kills him?”
But the brothers have now admitted to giving the red deer a substantial snack.
One of them said: “We had stopped so I could get a picture of the deer by the side of the road. I got some photos and it followed me back to the car.
“The poor wee thing was starving – there had been a lot of snow and so there wasn’t much food around. We just gave it what we had in the car.
“It really enjoyed it all, and I don’t think it would do it much harm. It was trying to get its tongue into the Irn Bru bottle and take it out of our hands.”
He added: “It was quite funny – I think it was grateful. The majority of people liked the picture on Facebook but there is always going to be a few who don’t.”
PETA UK Director Mimi Bekhechi said: “Irn-Bru may be Scotland’s national drink, but that doesn’t mean that the local wildlife have acquired a taste for it or junk food.
“PETA advises people simply to let deer forage for fruit, nuts such as acorns and other natural foods.”
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We would discourage members of the public from hand-feeding any wild animals.
“An improper diet could lead to digestive upset and other health issues. It could also be dangerous for the person feeding the animal.”
But John Bruce, from the British Deer Society, was less concerned.
He said: “This feeding even may seem bizarre but it shouldn’t be any threat to the deer’s health or wellbeing.
“Crisps are potatoes, oil and salt – potatoes are not bad for deer, deer love salt and oil won’t injure them.
“Fatty chocolates will not pose a threat as the fats and sugars will simply provide a quick burst of energy.
“The Irn Bru – I don’t know how anything drinks it, let alone a deer – but I guess the sugary taste will be attractive and albeit an unnatural source of energy, it won’t hurt the deer.”
However, he added that it is “unwise” to encourage wild animals to lose all their natural fear of humans.
He said: “Deer are wild and unpredictable, and it can become dangerous as they can inflict injury quite easily with a slash of a hoof, a spike with an antler or even a headbutt.”