Celebrity stag put down after hikers feed it croissants

Callum the stag
Callum the stag had to be put down after suffering poor health - Darrell Evans/Alamy

A stag made famous on social media has had to be put down after it was fed junk food by hikers.

Callum, described as a “well-known character” in the north-west Scottish Highlands, had to be euthanised after developing health problems.

The animal’s willingness to approach visitors in the car park of Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and eat from their hands led it to become a popular draw for those on the North Coast 500 route and earned the creature a celebrity status online.

Callum the stag
Callum surrounded by breathtaking scenery in the Binn Eighe National Nature Reserve - Andrew Grant McKenzie/SWNS

Videos posted on YouTube show Callum being fed croissants and Rice Krispies, as well as healthier snacks such as strawberries and apples.

But after the National Trust for Scotland announced that it had been forced to have Callum put down, locals expressed concern that the stag’s access to snacks was to blame for its deteriorating health.

They claim that being fed the wrong types of food caused Callum’s teeth to rot and meant it struggled to forage for itself in the colder months.

Iona MacDonald, a Highlands journalist, told the BBC that the stag had to rely on locals to feed it in winter.

Callum was described as a "well-known character for both tourists and locals"
Callum was described as a "well-known character for both tourists and locals"
The stag at Beinn Eighe car park
The docile stag was fed junk food by hikers at this car park - Andrew Grant McKenzie/SWNS

“Callum was a very well-known character for both tourists and locals,” she said, adding that, “after being fed by tourists for quite some time, it seemed he had become quite reliant on that food source.”

A National Trust for Scotland spokesman said: “We are saddened to say that following expert vet advice, Callum the stag, who was often found in the car park at Torridon, has had to be humanely put down.

“We know that many in the community, and visitors too, will be sorry to hear this.

“As a conservation charity, we take our responsibilities for animal welfare seriously and the advice was that this was the kindest option.

“The expert vet assessment found that Callum was suffering pain and discomfort as a result of poor body condition, poor coat condition and arthritis.”

Callum’s fans were saddened by the news, with Andrew Grant McKenzie, a Highlands historian, describing the stag as a “local legend”.

“Sad news that Callum will no longer be at the Beinn Eighe car park, but I have no doubt the advice from the vet was for welfare reasons and Callum’s condition had deteriorated in recent years,” said Mr McKenzie.

“The issue of people feeding wildlife is one that comes up regularly across the Highlands and Callum’s popularity should serve as a way of communicating the message that we must be careful with our interaction with the natural world.”

But he added: “There is no doubt Callum had a good long life for a stag.”