Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Do we need to cull 50% of UK's deer?

Deer do need controlling? 50% seems a very high estimate. 
Scientist claims there are more deer in the UK than at any time since the Ice Age
March 2013. Current approaches to deer management are failing to control a serious and growing problem, according to new research by the University of East Anglia.

Roe & Muntjac
Researchers drove more than 1140 miles at night and used thermal imaging and night vision equipment to quantify the population of roe and muntjac deer in a unique study spanning the border of Norfolk and Suffolk. The results show for the first time that present management efforts are not enough to stop populations spreading out of control.

There are more deer in the UK than at any time since the ice age. In the absence of natural predators, populations are continuing to expand - causing a serious threat to biodiversity, as well as road traffic accidents and crop damage.

The research team investigated the numbers, sex ratio and fertility of roe and muntjac deer across 234 km2 of forested land and heathland in Breckland, East Anglia, to measure the effectiveness of deer management. It is the first time that such a landscape-scale study has been carried out in Europe and the first time that control efforts have been compared to known numbers.

Deer ‘pushed out'
They found that while deer management appeared to control numbers at a stable level, this was only because thousands of deer are ‘pushed out' to the surrounding countryside each year, helping drive the further spread of deer.

Wildlife Extra asked UEA about the results of this 'pushing out', and whether other areas would be the same so Breckland would also be importing deer.

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