More than 11,000 animals were culled in London’s Royal Parks between January 2013 and January 2017 according to Freedom of Information Act requests by national animal rights organisation, Animal Aid.
A total of 8,400 mammals and 3,240 birds have been culled in Bushy Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park and St. James’s Park.
These figures include 3,679 squirrels, 330 foxes, 2,657 rabbits and 1,734 red and fallow deer. They also include 1,221 crows, 268 geese, 382 magpies, 46 jays, 1,025 pigeons, and 298 parakeets.
Now more than 75,000 people have signed a petition, calling on The Royal Parks to stop culling healthy animals.
The petition was started by Natalia Doran, who runs a squirrel rescue and rehabilitation organisation called Urban Squirrels.
Doran says: “The public are largely unaware of the culling of animals in London’s Royal Parks.
“More precisely, they think that when the animals are culled, it is in small numbers and for their own good, because they are old, ill or injured. “
She continued: “Nothing could be further from truth: the numbers are very high, and the decisions to cull seem to be made not on scientific grounds, but on a whim.
“The petition calls for a professional assessment of the Parks’ carrying capacity and the use of non-lethal methods of deterrence.
“The Parks are under new management now, so it would be an excellent opportunity to pull together the efforts of life scientists, animal protection and animal rescue organisations, volunteers and paid staff in order to make the parks the sort of spaces that the increasingly animal-aware public can properly enjoy.”
Animal Aid Director, Isobel Hutchinson, added: “The Royal Parks urgently need to change their brutal and callous approach to wildlife.
“These animals play a vital role in allowing park visitors to re-connect with nature and take a break from city life. Yet these innocent wild animals, who bring so much joy to people, often find themselves at risk of being killed.
“For people who visit these parks and relish the opportunity to see wildlife, it must be a real shock to find out about this disturbing killing regime.
“The rapid rate at which this petition has grown shows the incredible strength of public feeling about this issue – people want wild animals to be cherished and not culled.”
A Royal Parks spokeswoman said: “The Royal Parks are carefully-managed spaces and complex environments inhabited by thousands of species of animals and plants.
“Over 77 million people visit each year.
“Maintaining and enhancing a diversity of wildlife is at the heart of our work.
“It’s a very careful balancing act to make sure that the wildlife can co-exist and flourish in the parks’ delicate ecosystems.
“Without effective management some species across the 5,000 acres of parkland could fail to thrive or disappear altogether.
“Our humane approach to animal management also ensures the survival of ancient trees and other rare habitats – which in turn support a rich variety of other animals.”