Woburn Abbey Deer Park should be ‘asked tough questions’ surrounding the killing of their deer by trophy hunters, claims animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports.

It was exposed on Sunday in the Observer that a tour company is offering hunters from across the world package holidays to shoot deer in Bedfordshire, including at Woburn Abbey Deer Park.

The League, who along with local group Bedfordshire Against Trophy Hunting (BATH) revealed the scandal, released evidence that hunters were being sent to the Park, which is owned by the same company as Woburn Safari Park. In their response, Woburn Deer Park said that deer were killed as part of an ‘annual cull’.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Breeding deer with giant antlers so they can be shot for money by hunters for ‘fun’ is something that most members of the public will find grotesque. The culling argument doesn’t stack up. They breed the deer – so if there’s too many, stop breeding them, it’s that simple.”

BATH revealed the link with Woburn after contacting the tour company, Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours. The company’s sales director confirmed details of deer being available to be shot, saying that ‘Woburn Park is ideal for this and we can do Pere David and red stag as well.’

“Woburn say they are not associated with Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours, which offers these hunting packages – but they don’t deny outright that they allow trophy hunters to kill their deer,” said Chris Luffingham. “Anyone who loves animals, including those they see at the Safari Park, should ask them some tough questions: do you raise money by allowing trophy hunters to kill your deer?

“It’s shameful that trophy hunting is alive and well in Britain. Killing animals for fun and posing with the corpse of their victim is a vile and sickening activity which has no place in a modern and compassionate society.”

A spokesperson from Bedfordshire Against Trophy Hunting, said:

“We were horrified to discover trophy hunting was taking place in our own backyard and being marketed internationally on the novelty of being able to shoot 'rare and exotic' deer breeds.

“Woburn Abbey Deer Park breeds red stags with world record standard trophy antlers – some of these poor beasts are then shot in exchange for thousands of pounds each.

“This is the same deer park that proudly trumpets what it has done to save the Père David breed from extinction but now allows hunters to shoot them.”

Woburn Abbey Deer Park’s website talks proudly of the deer and the conservation work they have done. However, within the park is situated Woburn Abbey Deer Farm, which has its own page on the website. On this page, the deer are described in terms of their size and the number of ‘points’ their antlers have. Trophy hunters pay extra for deer with larger antlers.

Limpopo Diana Hunting Tours also offer trips to kill lions, elephants and numerous other animals around the world. Red deer stags in the UK are being offered to trophy hunters for up £9,000 a head – with the price depending on the size of the stag.

According to its price list, also on offer is the Père David breed of deer which was recently saved from extinction but can be shot for £6,965.

Wallabies and a species of sheep called Soay, both of which can be seen at Woburn Safari Park, are also on offer to trophy hunters visiting the county. Soay rams are being offered up at £600 per head and ewes at £150. Wallabies are also listed as potential targets, as are Chinese water deer: ‘a must for every trophy collection.’, according to one of their brochures. 

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Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]