Thousands of deer are to be shot to save ash trees from a killer disease.

About 400,000 animals are normally culled every year to keep numbers down.

But conservationists believe thousands more must go to allow young ash saplings to grow and replace the trees suffering from ash dieback disease, Chalara fraxinea.

‘We will use a combination of fencing and deer management. But if you simply use fencing, deer just push through or decimate neighbouring woodland.’

The RSPCA said a cull would be acceptable if overgrazing threatened the landscape.