Great Britain

Rare white stag killed by Merseyside police because it could pose ‘danger to motorists’

A rare white stag has been shot dead by the police after it was spotted running through the streets of a town in Merseyside, with officers saying the animal posed “a danger to motorists and members of the public”.

Police were called at around 8.45am on Sunday morning after residents of Bootle saw the stag running on its own through at-times busy residential streets.

Paula, a resident of Crosby, was among those who filmed the animal and posted the footage on social media. She told the Liverpool Echo she saw the stag on her way to work.

“As I came over the flyover in Seaforth, there was a police car at the lights at the top of Knowsley Road and as the officer approached, off it ran towards Bootle,” she said.

“It must have been have been quite scared and I genuinely have no idea where it was from.”

A spokesperson for the RSPCA told BBC News that the organisation had advised police on what to do with the deer, and originally recommended leaving it alone “as it would make its own way back home”.

But police said that after several hours of tracking the stag across the town it became clear this might not happen, and the animal was cornered at an industrial estate and then euthanised. The RSPCA said it accepted that it was up to police to make such a judgement where there was a possible risk to the public.

Police said a veterinary surgeon assisted at the scene “to monitor the animal’s welfare and assist the officers attempts to control the animal”.

“Several enquiries were made to find an organisation who could assist with recovering the deer safely, but unfortunately we were unable to get assistance and as the hours went by the deer became more distressed,” police said.

“There was no option to let the deer wander as it could be a danger to motorists and members of the public in the area, particularly as the hours of darkness approached,” Merseyside police said in a statement on its official website.

“As a result a decision was made in the early evening to euthanise the deer,” it added.

One expert, however, pointed out a challenge in trying to tranquillise and move such an animal in a built-up area.

“A large wild animal doesn’t collapse on the spot when it’s darted – it’s liable to run off which could have caused even more of a hazard,” Charles Smith-Jones, of the British Deer Society, was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

Sightings of white stags are relatively rare, with the animal appearing in a range of mythologies across the world. Their colour comes from a condition known as leucism, a recessive genetic trait that means they lack pigment over all or part of their bodies.

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