Deer

Which deer species are native and which are non-native to the UK?
There are six species of deer in the UK. Red and Roe deer are the only native species. Fallow deer (Dama dama) are a long-standing naturalised species and Sika deer (Cervus nippon), Muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) and Chinese Water deer (Hydropotes inermis) were introduced in the last 150 years.

Why are deer numbers increasing?
It is thought that deer are more abundant and widespread now than at any time in the past 1000 years. There is also evidence of increasing deer numbers in the expansion of their geographic range. Rapid increase in deer numbers in recent decades is a result of:
  • Increased woodland cover
  • Milder winters leading to increased fecundity
  • Changes to agriculture such as increased area of winter crops
  • Escape from parks and farms
  • Greater connectivity between green space in urban areas

Why are deer culled?
Deer are culled (approximately 350,000 per year) to manage the populations and to try to prevent the problems they can cause.

What problems are associated with deer?
In the countryside, excessive deer densities cause over-grazing and excessive browsing and trampling. In ancient woodland this can lead to:
  • Loss of characteristic woodland plant species such as the oxlip and bluebell
  • Declines in characteristic woodland bird species such as the nightingale due to loss of plant structural diversity and food supply
  • Declines in invertebrate abundance and diversity
  • Prevention of adequate  tree regeneration  and traditional coppicing management
Other serious problems include disease transmission to humans and livestock, animal welfare in dense populations, poaching and human safety.

Increasing numbers of deer in urban areas has lead to several emergent problems inlcuding:
  • Road traffic accidents,
  • Damage to gardens, allotments and parks,
  • Attacks on pets by Muntjac deer and vice versa
  • Deer trapped in railings, canals and waterways requiring emergency service assistance
  • Violent attacks on deer by humans
  • Illegal deer coursing and poaching
Are there many road traffic accidents involving deer?
A nationwide survey from 2000-2005 collected reports of over 30,500 deer-vehicle collisions (DVC), of which 1,150 resulted in human injury and 20 in human fatality. The survey emphasises that DVC are significantly under-reported. In 2006 over 3,500 live deer casualties were reported.

What are the estimated benefits and costs to the economy?

Wild deer are a significant economic and social resource in the Scottish Highlands, contributing an estimated £170 million and the equivalent of 2,500 full-time jobs in Scotland. Actual costs of damage caused by deer are very difficult to quantify, however, the cost of managing deer in Scotland alone has been estimated at £4.5 million per year by the Forestry Commission Scotland. Defra estimated the cost to agriculture in England at £4.3 million.




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