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Letter: Deer hunters

Sir: All field sportsmen and women regard their sport as a wildlife conservation measure. Where hunting is banned and the sporting value to the community of red deer is thereby destroyed, the animals are reduced to the status of vermin. Yet The Independent chooses to see the resulting slaughter as "a propaganda exercise" ("Bloody Revenge for stag hunt ban", 25 November).

Beast for beast, red deer destroy more crops than domestic stock do. They eat, trample and lie on large acreages of growing crops of hay and corn.

West Country farmers are not agribiz barons. Without the hunt to move on the deer, the damage becomes more localised and concentrated. They can hardly be blamed for protecting their crops, and incidentally harvesting legally the stock which they have harboured and fed, before the poachers from the towns get them. The lucrative venison market attracts armed and violent men: remove the sporting incentive and local people will not risk violence on dark nights in unrewarded wildlife protection.