Experts have claimed the UK's huge deer population could see the species considered 'vermin' if their numbers are not controlled.
An academic study published today estimated that around half the UK's deer need to be shot each year to prevent devastation of woodlands and birdlife.
The study in the Journal of Wildlife Management estimated that around 750,000 deer need to be killed each year to keep numbers stable.
There are currently around 1.5million deer in the UK, and experts say that unless numbers are managed, the deer population will escalate 'out of control and they will soon be considered vermin'.
The British Deer Society say that, as deer have 'no natural predators' in this country, they could soon be considered vermin like rats are today 'if left to their own devices'.
They were one of a number of voices who say that 'deer need to be managed in the United Kingdom'.
The call to arms against deer was made after new research showed that only by killing 50% to 60% of deer can their numbers be kept under reasonable control.
This is slaughter on a far greater scale than the 20% to 30% culling rates recommended before.
The current number of deer in the UK is said to be at its highest since the Ice Age.
Deer are said to be having a devastating effect on woodland, damaging farmers' crops, causing road accidents and threatening a danger to public safety in urban areas.
Shooting by trained and licensed hunters is the only practical way to keep their populations in check, according to Dr Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia.
"I don't think it's realistic to have wolves and brown bears in rural England," he said at a news briefing in London. "In the absence of natural predators, the only way to manage them is to shoot them."
The revealing statistic have led some to suggest that venison should be more widely promoted as a meat product around Britain in order to help keep numbers down.
Dr John Fletcher, from the British Deer Farms and Parks Association, said there are 'misconceptions' about venison being too expensive.
He told Yahoo! today: "Venison is on the shelves of all major supermarkets, and isn't more expensive if you consider its lean meat value.
"You don't need any cereals to feed deer, whereas beef and lamb is produced almost entirely through cereals - cereals which could be used by humans."
Although they were kept on private land belonging to the nobility, native wild deer were virtually unknown in England for 1,000 years until their re-introduction by the Victorians.
Each year more than 14,000 vehicles are severely damaged and about 450 people injured or killed on British roads as a result of collisions with deer.
Deer strip woodland of wild flowers, brambles and shrubs, and disturb the ecology to the point that native birds are lost. The fact that nightingales are now so rare is largely blamed on deer.
Britain has a total of six deer species. Roe deer and red deer are the only two species native to the UK.
Four others have been introduced from abroad since Norman times.
The most recent newcomers were the muntjac deer and the Chinese water deer, which became
established in the wild in the 1920s.
Expanding areas of woodland surrounded by farms, together with the lack of natural predators, have provided perfect conditions in which deer can flourish.
Like foxes, deer are now starting to feel at home in urban environments, said Dr Dolman.
"Studies have been done in Sheffield that show roe deer living in cemeteries," he said.
"Muntjac deer will move into private gardens and allotments. Fallow deer are wide ranging - they live in woodland but come in to feed. There are housing estates in London where they've been known to graze on lawns in the evening.
"There have been no accidents yet but it's only a matter of time. These are large animals with sharp antlers. If you had one cornered in a school playing field, it could be nasty."
Dr Dolman led the first full-scale census of roe and muntjac deer populations across 234 square kilometres (145 miles) of woods and heathland in Breckland, East Anglia.
The researchers drove more than 1,140 miles at night using thermal imaging cameras to spot deer and provide an accurate estimate of their true numbers.
The results, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, indicate that existing management strategies are failing.
Although deer numbers appeared stable, this was only because thousands of the animals were being pushed out into the surrounding countryside each year.
Culling 53% of the muntjac and 60% of the roe deer each year would only be enough to stop their populations growing, said Dr Dolman. Reducing deer numbers would require even more killing. The same culling levels were likely to be required in other parts of the country.
Reacting to the report, Sarah Stride, general manager of the British Deer Society, said: "The Society is wary of headlines such as 750,000 deer to be culled annually - this is not well-justified and sounds as if it offers rather an arbitrary figure, not one based on a very scientific approach.
"The British Deer Society acknowledges that there are areas within the UK where there are far too many deer - such as the Arne Peninsula (where recent active management has more recently been effective in reducing densities and associated impacts), Ashdown Forest, and Thetford Forest where this research appears to have been carried out - but suggests that such ‘hotspots’ of high density are not representative of the wider countryside.
"The British Deer Society is very supportive of active deer management, directed towards ensuring that deer numbers are maintained at densities that are in balance with their habitat and strongly supports a call that co-ordination of such management at a landscape level is to be encouraged."