AN ANIMAL rights group has joined the appeal to stop the culling of roe deer at Sellafield.

Bosses from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an affiliate of the largest animal rights organisation in the world, have sent a letter calling for the “humane and practical solution of herding the trapped deer off the site”.

PETA Campaign Coordinator Kirsty Henderson wrote: "Killing deer who have become trapped after the erection of fences in the area is extremely cruel and, as recent protests from local people have shown, damaging for Sellafield's reputation.

“May I please have your assurance that you will not kill the deer on your land?.”

The proposed cull by operators at the nuclear plant comes after a secondary security fence was put up, trapping what is thought to be between five and 12 roe deer.

But the decision to cull the deer remains unchanged.

A Sellafield spokesman said: “Before taking the decision to cull the small number of deer enclosed between our two fences, Sellafield Ltd sought expert advice and explored and tested a number of different ways to safely remove them.

“We did so with no pre-determined ideology or solution, other than that a cull should only be carried out as a last resort.

“Not surprisingly, having exhausted all options before making our decision and proactively informing local stakeholders of our intention, the advice from our experts has not and will not change, despite the strong feelings which have been expressed.”

PETA is just the latest organisation to join the campaign.

A number of protestors gathered outside the West Cumbrian site earlier this month, including anti-nuclear campaigner Marianne Birkby and villagers from Seascale.

Ms Birkby said at the time that there were three petitions calling for the cull to stop with a total of 3,700 signatures between them.

Respect for Wildlife Founder Katherine Green, Animal Aid’s Kate Fowler, and Kevin Newell, of Humane Wildlife Solutions, are among those who have spoken out against the controversial cull.