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article imageMounted head on hotel wall believed to be Emperor of Exmoor

By Lynn Curwin     Dec 12, 2011 in World
Tiverton - A mounted stag's head hanging on a hotel wall is believed by some to be the head of the Emperor of Exmoor, who was thought to have been the largest wild animal in the U.K. until he was killed last year.
The nine-foot tall red deer stag was reported to have been shot near Rackenford in October, 2010 after witnesses claimed they heard two shots and the animal's body lying in a field. Many people were upset over the shooting, feeling that the animal was in his prime and should have been left to breed, and to be photographed and admired.
A few days later doubts arose over whether the deer was actually dead after it was reported that he had been seen.
Now The Hartnoll Hotel, in Bolham, which is about nine miles from where the animal was killed, has a large stag's head hanging on a wall.
I’ve loaned it off of somebody who doesn’t want to be mentioned and he could well be the Emperor, yes,” hotel owner Claire Carter told The Telegraph.
“The thing is I haven’t actually bought it. I’ve got it on loan. It doesn’t actually belong to me.”
She said she promised not to identify who had loaned it to her, stating: “I don’t think they want all the agro. 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 BBC reported that photographer Richard Austin, who gave the stag his name, said he was "95% sure" it was the Emperor.
He said there was a bump on the right antler which appeared identical to the Emperor's.
"I've had a good look and it's close - very, very close," he stated.
Wildlife tracker Dave Webb, who has seen the Emperor several times, does not believe the head is that of the Emperor.
"If you compare the antlers there are a few differences which make me believe it’s not The Emperor," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"The points nearest the eyebrows on the picture taken in the wild of The Emperor are twisted. On the one that’s hanging on the wall in the hotel they are straight.
"There are also a number of differences in the alignment of the antlers on the two and I really don’t think The Emperor is hanging on the wall in a hotel in north Devon."
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