LONDON - BRITISH drivers were urged on Tuesday to ease off the gas in an effort to cut down on tens of thousands of collisions with deer recorded each year.

Around 74,000 deer are hit on Britain's roads every year, according to figures from breakdown service Autonational Rescue.

Such accidents can cause up to 700 human casualties, including several fatalities, and annually cost more than 21 million pounds (S$43.2 million) in damage, according to the data.

'There are probably around 200 accidents a day involving deer,' said Autonational marketing manager Ronan Hart. 'It's a much bigger problem than people realise and not something that happens once in a blue moon to motorists,' added a spokesman for deer protection organisation, The Deer Initiative.

The warning came amid reports that a giant red stag, thought to be Britain's biggest wild animal, was killed for its antlers.

The body of the 'Exmoor Emperor', named after the area in south-west England where the stag was frequently sighted, was found close to a road in the county of Devon. It is believed that a licensed hunter is responsible for legally killing the stag, which stood 2.75m to the tips of its antlers.

Over 70,000 deer hit a year