In a move that has infuriated British wildlife experts, a giant red stag thought to be the country's biggest wild animal has been shot dead, according to reports.
The stag, nicknamed the "Exmoor Emperor," weighed more than 300 pounds and stood nearly 9 feet tall. Its death is believed to have been carried out by a licensed sport hunter rather than poachers, the Daily Mail reports.
While there is no question as to the shooting's legality, the Emperor's death has reportedly angered animal activists and wildlife experts, who believe the wild stags should receive special protection during their mating season. Red deer stags are the biggest native land animals left in Britain, and the Emperor was thought to be the largest among them.
As British deer management expert Peter Donnelly tells The Telegraph:
"It's a disgrace that this magnificent animal has been shot at this time because it could be that he didn't get a chance to rut properly this year -therefore his genes have not been passed on this time round. The poor things should be left alone during the rut - not harried from pillar to post. If we care about deer, we should maintain a standard and stop all persecution during this important time of the year."
Donnelly went on to note his frustrations that sportsmen from abroad and other parts of the country had been descending upon Exmoor National Park specifically for bloodsport. "There are people who are prepared to spend quite ridiculous sums of money to have a trophy on their wall," he said.