Deer breeds of the UK that could be in the firing line
The red deer is Britain's largest native land mammal (adult stags weigh up to 190 kg and are up to around 140 cm at the shoulder). There have been laws to protect red deer since Saxon times and they have survived in fluctuating numbers through the Middle Ages to modern times.
In England the main concentrations are in the South West, particularly Exmoor and the Quantocks, East Anglia, and the Lake District with a wide scatter of local herds elsewhere.
Red deer are animals of woodland associated with open areas. They will sometimes spend their time almost exclusively in the open. They are herding animals which rut in the autumn, usually producing single calves in the spring.
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The roe deer is primarily an animal of mixed and small woodland but is capable of adapting to a wide variety of habitats. It has penetrated many towns, making use of gardens, parks and other open spaces where there is food and cover. It may also be seen well out into open farmland.
The roe deer is a native species which has been present in Britain since at least the Mesolithic period. However, probably because of over-hunting, it became extremely scarce in medieval times and by 1700 was considered extinct in southern and central England. After 1800 there were re-introductions into England and colonies were established in Dorset, Sussex and East Anglia.
Fallow are considered as a naturalised, though re-introduced species. Although fallow deer were present some 400,000 years ago in Britain, later glaciations restricted them to the Mediterranean basin. There are no reliable records of them being imported into Britain before the Norman Conquest, after which they were kept widely in parks for both food and ornament.
The present feral population owes its existence largely to park escapes. The fallow deer range and numbers have increased substantially since 1972, across the country. Fallow are a herding species and in high-density populations in large woodlands, males live in separate groups to the females and young, except during the autumn rut.
Sika are a non-native species, originating from the Far East where some 13 different races are recognised, many of them endangered in their native countries.
Most sika in Britain are Japanese in origin. Some were released deliberately, eg. in Kintyre, the New Forest, Dorset and Bowland forest.
Sika are to be found in Lancashire and Yorkshire, southern and mid Dorset and the New Forest.
Sika prefer woodland or thicket and graze on nearby open areas such as farmland or heath and moorland. They are herding animals which rut in the autumn, usually producing single calves in the spring.
At least seven species of muntjac are known, with a natural distribution from Pakistan to Java and north to mainland China. Two species have been introduced to Britain in the past.
Muntjac have spread throughout mainland Britain since 1972, although none are thought to have yet reached Devon and Cornwall. The Muntjac is regarded as an introduced non-native species and its release into the wild is prohibited under Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Muntjac are not seasonal breeders. They produce single fawns every seven months, gestation is 210 days and lactation is six to eight weeks. Mating follows quickly after birth.