Hackney Council resists calls to re-home Clissold Park deer

Clissold Park Zoo watch picket deer enclosure today at 11am in protest

Hackney Council has resisted calls to re-home Clissold Park’s deer, after three deer died there in the space of six months.

The council said it was considering whether to relocate the deer last month, after a doe was mauled by a dog and another died a week later of internal hemorrhaging, brought on by the stress of the attack.

But during last week’s Clissold Park User Group meeting, Jonathan MacShane, Hackney council cabinet member for community services said he believed the problems were just “transitional,” and that the council had “learned some lessons.”

He came under fire from angry animal lovers in St Mary’s Church Rooms in Church Street, including Barbara Reed from campaign group Clissold Park Zoo Watch.

“We have to ask is Clissold Park ever going to be able to provide (a suitable environment), regardless of the issue of security,” she said.

“The deer aren’t ever going to have enough space, dogs will still be coming into the park and near the fence stressing them out - we have to put their needs and welfare before anyone else’s.”

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Mr MacShane replied that, “if the deer were put in a forest, they wouldn’t be able to handle it,” likening the situation to cats kept indoors.

“We won’t continue keeping these animals in the park just for out entertainment if we can’t guarantee their welfare, but I think we can,” he said, adding that staff training was on the cards.

The question was raised of why this hadn’t been implemented in August when vet consultant Peter Green recommended it, and CPUG Secretary John Hudson added that “good intentions were not enough.”

A couple of people expressed their love for the deer, including 75-year old Sylvia, who remembers seeing the deer ever since she could walk.

“They never have run free and I’m not sure they could cope with it,” she said. Concern for the herd’s security and welfare during the park’s �9m refurb emerged last August, when a deer was injured and had to be humanely shot after night-time intruders broke into the enclosure.

Leading deer expert John Fletcher warned three years ago that the park enclosure was “unsuitable” for deer, and he recommended leaving the population to dwindle away by removing the fertile males.

More than 1,000 signatures were collected within a week of an online petition in October, calling on the council to re-home the deer.

Clissold Park Zoo Watch will picket the deer enclosure at 11am today, calling for the relocation of the animals to a more suitable home.