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Talking muntjac in the Sunday Times

In an article for the Sunday Times, the Countryside Alliance had the opportunity to discuss the growing problem posed by high muntjac numbers.

Ali Hussain, chief Money reporter for The Times and The Sunday Times, wrote a prominent piece in the Sunday paper titled: 'The muntjacs are coming ... your garden may not be safe'.

Mr Hussain, who recently bought a home with some land in Norfolk close to the Waveney River, wrote that there are no spring bulbs 'cheering up my garden because something has eaten them all'.

'Step forward, the muntjac, an invasive species of deer no bigger than a medium-sized dog, which is destroying gardens and causing traffic chaos across swathes of southeast England and parts of Wales'.

Mr Hussain went on to explain that prior to moving to the Norfolk countryside, he had been 'oblivious' to the problem muntjac caused.

As part of the article, the Countryside Alliance explained that there are more deer in the UK than at any time since the Norman conquest, and in many places their population is far too large.

Muntjac are a particular problem because they are small enough to get through garden fences and are less afraid of humans than larger deer species.

We explained that there are no up-to-date figures for their population. A 2009 parliamentary report put it at more than 150,000, mainly in England, but according to the British Deer Society the real number is likely to be a lot higher.

Under the Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019, muntjac are classified as an invasive species, so their capture and rerelease is not permitted. We pointed out, however, that you can shoot them, provided you have the permission of the landowner and a gun licence.

Mr Hussain wrote that with an excess of supply and lack of demand, the price of venison has dropped. A pilot project run by the Country Food Trust will serve venison ragout in food banks across the country. Muntjac meat is said by connoisseurs to be delicious. It is high in protein and has lower levels of saturated fat than beef and other red meat.

The Countryside Alliance promotes the benefits of eating game, through its popular Game to Eat campaign.

In closing his article, Mr Hussain wrote: "If you're adventurous, you can cook it yourself. A muntjac haunch will set you back about £17.50…Well worth it, in my view: nothing tastes as sweet as revenge".

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