Brits bemoan giant deer’s death

Famous red stag shot

British animal lovers are trying to figure out who shot and killed the nation’s largest living land animal, a 9-foot giant red stag, but whoever is responsible is keeping quiet, according to U.S. and British media reports.

The 12-year-old deer, dubbed the Emperor of Exmoor, was shot by a hunter in mid-October just weeks after its photo appeared in the national press. The details of its death have not been confirmed, but standard practice in the area involves hunters taking a deer’s head and antlers as a trophy and leaving the carcass to the landowner. The practice is legal between the months of August and April.

Southwest England attracts hunters from around the world, who kill thousands of red stags each year and keep the deer population in check. However, animal activists have claimed that killing the famous Emperor during mating season was a disservice to the herd.

“He was still in his prime. He did not need to be culled,” said area deer-expert Peter Donnelly.