Emperor of Exmoor’s head found mounted on hotel wall
His shooting last year caused widespread outrage - but the absence of a body led some to question whether reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.
The giant animal, which stood at nearly 9ft (2.75m) tall, was reported to have been shot dead in the middle of the annual rut on the edge of Exmoor, Devon, last year.
Many wildlife enthusiasts deplored its killing and demanded the hunter, or possible poacher responsible, be held to account by authorities. Unsurprisingly, no-one came forward.
Now, however, Claire Carter, the owner of the boutique The Hartnoll Hotel in Bolham, near Tiverton, has said she has been given the mounted head of the Emperor on loan.
She insisted she had “promised faithfully” not to reveal who had bequeathed the impressive trophy as the owner did not want “the aggro”.
“I’ve loaned it off of somebody who doesn’t want to be mentioned and he could well be the Emperor, yes,” she admitted yesterday.
“The thing is I haven’t actually bought it. I’ve got it on loan. It doesn’t actually belong to me.”
The hotel is nine miles from where the stag was killed.
Asked about the stag’s origins or why the owner did not want to be identified, she said she had “promised faithfully I wouldn’t say anything about that”.
She added: “I don’t think they want all the aggro. There was obviously a lot of problems at the time. So that’s it, that’s all I can really say but I do believe it is (the Emperor).”
The magnificent 300lb beast was reported to have been shot near the village of Rackenford, on the southern edge of Exmoor, in October last year. Witnesses claimed they heard two shots fired before seeing the animal’s body lying in a field.
Red deer stags are the biggest indigenous land species left in the UK and the animal, with 14 points or tines on its antlers, was widely believed to be the largest living example.
Local deer lovers were quick to condemn the killing and a debate raged as to whether it had been shot illegally or by a licensed deer stalker.
The head of a giant red deer stag, believed to have been the biggest wild land animal in the UK, has been taken down from the wall of a Devon hotel.
An employee of the Hartnoll Hotel in Bolham, near Tiverton, said the hotel had been “bombarded” with threats.
No complaints have been made to the police about the threats which have come via telephone and email.
The Exmoor Emperor was killed near Rackenford in October last year.
Weighing more than 135kg (300lb) and standing nearly 2.75m (9ft) tall, it is believed the Emperor was shot by a licensed hunter during the annual rut.