A councillor has attacked the decision of RHS Bridgewater to cull a “small group” of deer.

Councillor Lewis Nelson, who represents Cadishead and is a Wildlife Champion, says the decision to “humanely cull” was a “terrible mistake”.

In a statement, the organisation says it had to “limit the significant potential damage to plants, shrubs, and trees”.

Cllr Nelson said: “I think it is very upsetting and it is very frustrating, and I completely understand and feel the amount of anger that there is in Salford and there has been across the weekend.”

“I understand the conversations that have happened in other areas about deer population control but this was not it, this was an indiscriminate cull of deer that were just in a difficult location and I do not think that is justifiable.”

“I do not know the logistical situation that they have but it seems difficult to me to imagine that they were able to shoot them with a rifle but were not able to move them on or even tranquilise them.”

The decision has attracted condemnation from the public on social media.

User @sharkt3am said on Twitter: “As a Salfordian, I’m utterly disgusted with what has gone on here.

“Using COVID as an excuse for not being able to move them on, why should they be moved on they have been here hundreds of years, the garden has only just come back after decades of it being gone.”

Another user expressed: “The best thing for the roe deer would be for them to be allowed to roam freely at sites, such as the one at @RHSBridgewater, as they previously did for over a century and NOT be culled!”

Cllr Nelson acknowledged the anger from the public.

He said: “I think people are very angry. I think people are very upset and I think there is a lot of hurt.”

“RHS Bridgewater would not be where it is without the Salford people because hundreds and thousands of volunteers from local people have been invested in the site.”

He added: “I’ll be writing again to the RHS to understand some more of the details and to understand and get assurance that it is not a strategy that they are willing to do anymore.”

City Mayor, Paul Dennett has promised an investigation into the affair.

Mayor Dennett said: “In Salford, we see wildlife as our neighbours.

“We see it as our shared duty to coexist with our wildlife, and we are proud to have such diverse and breathtaking creatures in all corners of Salford.”

He added: “The RHS Gardens have the potential to hugely increase the biodiversity of this city – but the existing populations of wildlife must always be respected.”

A petition online started to prevent RHS Bridgewater from further culling of roe deer currently has nearly 6,000 signatures.

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