Death by snacks! Tears for Callum the stag amid fears the popular deer was killed by the kindness of strangers

A stag that became a social media star for his tame nature has died amid claims tourists feeding him unhealthy snacks, including marshmallows, helped cause his death.

Callum the Stag lost his teeth after strangers gave him treats, forcing the locals to feed him over the winter months to keep him alive.

The 13-pointer beast had no fear of humans and was a popular draw for visitors on the North Coast 500 route where he patrolled a carpark at Torridon, Ross-shire, and even posed for pictures.

But there has been an outpouring of anger after it emerged the stag had been euthanised on welfare grounds by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

Many Highlanders expressed their distress that the government quango had acted without consulting locals, while others were enraged that Callum had been fed unsuitable food by visitors. One said: ‘Callum’s demise is tragically down to over-tourism, social media and people with no respect for wildlife.

‘Visitors travelling to a car park to get a selfie with Callum, was more important to many, than his life itself.’

Tourists visiting the nature reserve in Torridon used to share snacks with the deer

Tourists visiting the nature reserve in Torridon used to share snacks with the deer

Another wrote: ‘Shame on the tourists and anyone who has contributed to this beautiful animal’s death.’

Yesterday the NTS confirmed that the elderly stag had been put down on veterinary advice as it was ‘the kindest option’.

The stag had been named Callum after he began approaching visitors at Torridon, which is popular with hillwalkers and motorists touring the Highlands.

Dozens of pictures of him were shared online and he would even put his head into vehicles to hoover up unhealthy treats including marshmallows, polo mints and dog biscuits.

He was also fed bananas, apples and pastries, according to some of the social media posts.

Notices were put up at the carpark urging people not to feed him, but tourists remained undeterred, and in the end he struggled to forage as he had lost so many teeth.

In 2021, he was even snapped knocking over the sign warning people to keep their distance and not to give him anything to eat.

However, recent pictures showed him appearing to be in poor condition.

Signs were posted in the car park urging visitors not to feed the stag

Signs were posted in the car park urging visitors not to feed the stag

But after it emerged there was a plan to euthanise the animal, locals took to social media to vent their anger.

One said: ‘I have no problem with the culling of wild deer for their meat value it has been done in my family all my life.

‘The problem I have is Trust going up to car park to dispatch him he will come to them thinking he is going to get fed.’

Deer are herbivores and can also develop diabetes and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association reiterated yesterday they should not be given human treats.

A spokesman said: ‘Red deer should not be fed human food. They eat grasses, lichens, bark and tree shoots as well as things like beech mast.

‘The only food in their diet which would resemble human food is bilberry, a bit like a small, natural blueberry, but things like mints, sweets, etc are a no.

‘They can cause digestive issues. Deer can also get diabetes so sugary foods are not good.’

A spokeswoman for the NTS 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.’

Tourists have warned not to approach friendly deer in the past. In 2020 they were told to stop giving the animals in Glen Coe whisky amid claims the beasts were getting drunk.

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