October 27, 2010

Britain’s “˜Emperor of Exmoor’ Killed For Antlers

A giant red stag believed to be the UK's biggest wild animal was killed for its antlers, according to reports on Tuesday.

"The Emperor of Exmoor," as the beast has been dubbed, was named after the southwestern area where the stag frequented. The deer, which was about 12 years old, weighed more than 300 pounds, and stood more than 9 feet tall was found close to the road dead in the county of Devon.

It is believed that a licensed hunter is responsible for legally killing the stag. But the shooting has drawn condemnation from deer-lovers who believe hunting should be outlawed during the mating season.

"It could be that he didn't get a chance to rut properly this year, therefore his genes have not been passed on this time round," Peter Donnelly, an Exmoor-based deer management expert, told several news agencies.

"The poor things should be left alone during the rut, not harried from pillar to post," he said.

The identity of the shooter remains unknown, but it is believed to be one of the growing number of wealthy sportsmen who are flooding to the area in search of a trophy kill.

"There are people who are prepared to spend quite ridiculous sums of money to have a trophy on their wall," Donnelly added.

Although hunting during the mating season is not illegal, many frown upon the thought as the mating stags are often underfed and tired due to their exhaustive behavior, making them easy targets.

Older stags are regularly taken down due to the historic eradication of any natural predators, but at 12 years old, the Emperor is thought to have had more productive mating seasons left in him, as he was still in very good health.

But the Emperor's legacy may not be over yet.

Donnelly said he had seen a very large young stag in the past few days -- which could very well be the offspring of the huge stag form an earlier rutting season.


Image Caption: A typical red deer stag photographed during rut (mating season). Credit: Bill Ebbesen/Wikipedia


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