The story today about the impact of fly-tipping in the countryside will shock wildlife lovers everywhere. We all know that rubbish dumped in woodland, on farms and in wild places is an eyesore. But now John Stowers of the Deer Initiative, the organisation that works with landowners and others to manage the wild deer population, has revealed in graphic detail the horrible effect it can have on wildlife too.
Who knows why some people think it is okay to use our beautiful countryside as a dumping ground? Of course restrictions and high charges for taking rubbish to the tip – imposed by some councils – don't help. But they can never be used to excuse simply dumping rubbish where you like. There is no excuse for that.
In the cases outlined today a responsible deer manager was called in to put injured animals out of their misery. That is one of the roles of qualified deer stalkers, who also manage herds of wild deer all across the Westcountry, maintaining healthy stocks and taking out, where appropriate, animals that need to be culled and, in the process, producing a delicious and healthy by-product, venison.
But while their stalking activities are controlled and part of an overall management plan, the damage done to the wild deer by the dumping of potentially hazardous rubbish is indiscriminate. The fallow buck that Mr Stowers had to reluctantly destroy after it has spent several days wearing itself out trying to escape from deeply buried binder twine wrapped around its antlers was in the prime of life.
Other wildlife can also be affected by the crime of fly-tipping and domestic stock can be hurt too. Farmers often bear the brunt of those who decide to use their land as a tip and if their stock gets to the rubbish before they do the results can be distressing and costly. We live, sadly, in a throwaway society where the value of a kitchen appliance or a piece of furniture becomes almost zero once it has been in use for a few years. The cost of removing many second-hand items from the home outweighs their worth – hence the fly-tippers take the easy way out.
Several local authorities have made a big impact on this crime – for that is what it is – by tracing the culprits through close examination of the things they have thrown away and punishing them through the courts. That is the only way if more distressing scenes like this are to be avoided.