CULLING deer which are causing distress to grieving families at Salisbury’s cemetery and crematorium could be the only answer to the problem, Salisbury City Council heard on Monday night.

The deer have already destroyed a memorial garden at the crematorium and have now moved into the cemetery in London Road and started eating flowers left on graves.

But after two years of discussions about the issue the council has failed to find a solution and fawns have now been spotted in the area, meaning the animals are breeding there.

Cllr Charles Rogers said: “We need to stop pussy-footing around. When you look at the solutions, the only one that will work is a cull. They are a menace and will eat anything.”

But other councillors say a cull would be hugely unpopular with the public and alternative options, such as fencing, need to be further explored.

Cllr Mike Timbrell said: “I understand it’s a very stressful situation for some families, but I don’t want to be on the council that shot Bambi.”

And Cllr Sven Hocking said: “I think we would have a much bigger queue of angry people if we culled them.”

Some of the families involved attended the meeting to tell the committee about their distress – one said they would like to see them culled, another preferred the idea of fencing and another asked if they could be moved. But city clerk Reg Williams said fencing would have to be at least 1.8m high so the deer couldn’t jump it and would need to be chainlink.

He also pointed out that, as the crematorium grounds are listed, there would likely be problems in gaining planning permission for this.

And the Deer Society has said that culling would only be a temporary fix as deer would come back to the area within three weeks to six months, so the only way to deter them in the future would be to fence the area or continue with a cycle of culling. To move the deer the council would need a licence to transport them and a landowner willing to take them, which it hasn’t been able to find.

“Relocating them really is a nonstarter,” said Mr Williams.

The council asked for more information on the cost of fencing, and on other options such as using plants and flowers deer don’t like, high frequency sound deterrents, strobe lights and pepper spray.