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Ask BDS – How Ethical is Wild Venison?

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Article by:
Charles Smith-Jones, Technical Adviser, British Deer Society

Ethical venison

The BDS is often approached by members of the public who wish to know more about the wild venison that they eat.  Most appreciate that venison is a sustainable product that comes from necessary deer control measures.  In particular, though, they may wonder whether there are alternatives to culling.  They also want to be reassured that venison has been sourced humanely and with proper respect for the deer.

Why Deer Need To Be Managed

Wild deer numbers often need to be managed to ensure that they are kept in balance with the available habitat.  There is no doubt that where deer populations are allowed to flourish to excess this can have severe consequences for their overall health, as well as being detrimental to the environment, farming, forestry and other concerns along with an increased hazard to human health from deer/vehicle collisions.   

There are currently no practical alternatives to culling as a means of controlling deer numbers. 

Could Contraception Be A Good Alternative?

We are still some way off from being able to use contraception as a suitable non-lethal option as there are major issues with delivering the medication as well as the effects it can have on the environment and the deer themselves. 

A practical and affordable non-lethal means of controlling wild deer numbers remains highly desirable, however, and research continues.  More information can be found here BDS position statement on fertility control

Standards and Legal Requirements

Whenever deer culling is conducted a comprehensive range of legal requirements, which include closed seasons, permitted firearms, and the times of day when it is conducted, must be observed. 

Furthermore, wherever culling is considered necessary the British Deer Society expects it to be carried out in a humane, efficient, and respectful manner with appropriate attention given to public safety.  For this reason, we develop and provide deer stalker training to ensure that the highest standards are upheld.

The venison itself is subject to very strict regulations regarding inspection, handling and processing before it is permitted to enter the human food chain.  

If you would like to know more there is a link to the relevant page of the BDS website here Venison – Healthy & Sustainable

Wild deer lead an entirely natural life and the wild venison which is the product of necessary deer management, is both healthy and sustainable. This is why wild venison ranks among the most ethical of meats you can eat.

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