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Canned Hunting in the UK

Thursday 1st July 2010

Canned Hunting in the UK

Canned hunting in the UK

In a recent article in the Sunday Times, it was revealed that the 15th Duke of Bedford, Andrew Ian Russell, born in Boston, Massachusetts, allows trophy hunters access to his herd of Pere David’s deer (aka Milu) to collect trophies at £6,000 each. These deer, extinct in the wild except for some recently reintroduced populations in reserves in their native China, seem to be high on the list of trophy hunters wanting to bag some really funky animals, supported of course by our good friends in the Safari Club International.

Andy Russell hardly needs the money; he was listed as being worth £490 million on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2005. But perhaps he needs a bit of ready cash, as that worth could be projected on the basis of his huge estate and home at Woburn? So Andy is selling his deer, and according to him, the money earned goes straight back into management of the herd (so more are available to be shot next year?).

What a bunch of nonsense. You don’t need to shoot these deer, they are so tame you could probably walk up to them and kill them with a pocket knife. Nevertheless, some would call it hunting, and if you have some ready cash available, do contact Mike McCrave (The best UK Outfitter with 40 years experience, also known as "the man in the" in hunting circles) to arrange a Pere David’s deer for you.


These deer actually have a bit of an interesting history. The species was “discovered” by Armand David, a French missionary working in China. The only surviving animals were kept in an Imperial hunting park near Beijing, and belonged to the Chinese Emperor. Those were eaten by Western and Japanese troops during the Boxer Rebellion. Luckily, and illegally, some deer were exported to Europe, and bred, forming the basis for a current worldwide zoo population. Reintroductions to China took place to China in the late 1980s.

Even Jane Goodall got involved, crediting Herbrand Arthur Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford for “saving” the Milu. Herbrand collected them from European zoos and bred them at Woburn. While I doubt that Herbrand would have agreed with Andy to allow “trophy” hunting, he appears not to have been an easy man. His grandson, John Ian Robert Russell (13th Duke) had this to say about Herbrand:  "A selfish, forbidding man, with a highly developed sense of public duty and ducal responsibility, he lived a cold, aloof existence, isolated from the outside world by a mass of servants, sycophants and an eleven-mile wall." Herbrand died in 1937, John died in 2002, Henry Robin Ian Russell (14th Duke) died in 2003, and now we have the seemingly cash-strapped 15th Duke – allowing trophy hunters to come in to “manage” his herds. We suggest instead he sell some of his land to support his lifestyle…

We stand back in amazement. An initial conservation effort is now turned into a money spinner for a supposedly impoverished Duke worth about £500 million? Thank you Sunday Times for exposing this reprehensible example of canned hunting going on in the UK.  


His grandson John Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford describes him as follows: "A selfish, forbidding man, with a highly developed sense of public duty and ducal responsibility, he lived a cold, aloof existence, isolated from the outside world by a mass of servants, sycophants and an eleven-mile wall."
Jane Goodall, with Thane Maynard and Gail Hudson, Hope for Animals and Their World: How endangered species are being rescued from the brink, 2009, Grand Central Publishing

Contact Mike McCrave (The Best UK Outfitter with 40 years experience).
Also known as "the man in the".

Hunters pay the Duke of Bedford £6,000 to shoot the rare Père Davids deer on his estate. But his forebears played an historic role in saving the species

Daniel Foggo
Published: 4 July 2010

Hunters pay about £6,000 to kill a large stag at the 3,000-acre Woburn estate (The Sunday Times) The Duke of Bedford, whose forebears saved one of the world’s rarest deer species from extinction by bringing it to the family’s country estate, is charging trophy hunters to shoot them.
Hunters pay about £6,000 to kill a large Père David stag at the 3,000-acre Woburn estate in Bedfordshire. It is better known to day trippers for the popular drives or walks to enjoy the sight of the grazing herds of Père Davids and eight other deer species.
A source connected to the estate said: “The Père David deer are so tame they just walk up to the vehicle, so shooting them is ridiculously easy. You just kill them from about 10-15 yards and the rest of the herd hardly even look up. You couldn’t call it sport.”
The rarity of the Père David attracts trophy hunters from around the world. Some want to kill a stag with large enough antlers to secure a place in a record book kept by Safari Club International, an international lobby group for hunting enthusiasts.
Some hunters choose to make the most of their trips to Woburn by killing a deer from as many of the species that live there as possible.
One hunter, Lee Anderson Snr, from Minnesota, shot a prize Père David at Woburn last November and also bagged specimens of Manchurian sika, fallow and water deer on the same day.
Hunts at Woburn are arranged through outfitters — brokers who are selective about their clients.
Many other estates in Britain also allow paying trophy hunters to kill deer, and culls are defended as a means to keep the rest of the herd healthy, and to avoid shortages of food. However, Woburn has attracted attention because of its historic role in saving the Père David species from extinction. It is named after the French missionary Father (Père) Armand David, who observed them in the mid-19th century in the imperial hunting park in China.
There the species is known as milu, or si bu xiang, which translates as “the four unlikes”. According to lore, the deer have “the hoofs of a cow, the neck of a camel, the tail of a donkey and the antlers of a deer”.
Its numbers in China declined drastically during the 1800s due to hunting and loss of habitat and by the end of the 19th century it was all but extinct in the wild.
The animal was effectively extinguished from its native China in the Boxer rebellion of 1898-1901 when soldiers ate the last survivors of a herd maintained by the Qing dynasty. Only those few animals that had previously been shipped to zoos and collections in Europe survived.
The 11th Duke of Bedford brought a pair to Woburn in 1893, and bred a herd of about 50. By the end of the first world war, it accounted for the species’ entire surviving population.
He also added other exotic species: rusa, muntjac, Chinese water deer, Manchurian sika, barasingha and axis deer.
In the past few decades the Père David’s numbers have increased to several thousand worldwide, and Woburn returned some to China in 1985.
The 15th Duke of Bedford said: “Woburn is very proud of its herds of deer, especially the Père David or milu deer, as it helped reintroduce the species to its native China after it became extinct there in 1900. As in all deer parks and deer forests, culling has to be carried out to ensure the population remains at the appropriate levels for their range.
“The shooting of deer, in line with culling requirements, is common on estates in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, providing an essential form of income that is reinvested in their management. On the occasions that this happens at Woburn this is done under the strict supervision of experienced staff.”
The League Against Cruel Sports does not cull deer living on thousands of acres that it owns in the west of England, preferring to use other population control methods, such as putting contraceptives in feed.
“We don’t support the population management of deer by culling and we don’t agree with turning killing into a recreation,” it said.

Aristo auctions

Cash-strapped aristocrats are selling £100m of art and antiques from their country homes. This week Christie’s will auction items worth up to £30m from Earl Spencer’s Althorp estate, while a Turner painting valued at up to £18m is being sold by the Earl of Rosebery. It had been on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland since 1978. The Duke of Devonshire and Marquis of Lothian are also selling off treasures, according to The Art Newspaper.