Letter: Deer hunters

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Sir: William Petrie (Letters, 27 November) is wrong to imply that hunting deer with hounds imposes the same stress that they suffer when preyed on by wolves. Wolves hunt by ambushing their prey, and a deer's muscles are geared towards short sprints to escape this kind of attack. Deer are ill-adapted to long chases; hence the muscle damage and other indications of stress and severe exhaustion detailed in the Bateson Report.

Where deer populations need to be controlled, the least stressful options are shooting by a trained marksman, or immuno-contraception - a technique used successfully in the US for the past eight years but given precious little attention in this country.

NIGEL GOODWIN

School of Biology

University of Nottingham

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