Chris Packham’s recent call to kill more deer in order to save Britain’s nightingales is perhaps (and perhaps deliberately?) an oversimplification, writes Professor Rory Putman, Chairman of the British Deer Society.
I have known Chris Packham for a good many years and he is a very fine naturalist and an extremely well-informed zoologist. It is a shame that on this occasion the quest for a good soundbite would appear to have caused him to abandon his usual scientific rigour.
There is, I think, no doubt that nightingales (as well as a number of other woodlands species of songbirds) have declined significantly over recent years. Robin Gill and Rob Fuller have shown an association between such declines and a change in woodland architecture, with a reduction within affected woodlands in the shrub layer and the foliar insects on which these insectivorous species depend.
Where deer densities are especially high, their browsing may indeed be one factor contributing to this reduction in the shrub layer of the wood, but the shrub layer may also be reduced, or even lost where there is poor light penetration through the canopy in unthinned woodlands (where perhaps more active woodland management practices such as ride clearance or coppicing may have been abandoned). And, ironically, in such cases, there is good evidence that browsing by deer and other large herbivores, by maintaining open areas, may be actively beneficial for a number of equally sensitive bird species such as wood warblers, pied flycatchers and redstarts.
Drivers warned to look out for deer roaming on to the country’s roads.
Drivers are being warned by Highways England to look out for deer roaming on to the country’s roads and posing risks to road users. The warning comes after five deer were found dead at one location on the A35 in Dorset recently.
Figures collated from various studies suggest at least there could be some 400 people injured in deer-related collisions each year, and potentially around 20 people killed.
At this time of year, deer collisions peak as many of the animals cross roads seeking new territories. The highest risk of collisions is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
The Deer Initiative and Highways England have teamed up to give advice to drivers.
Readers may be aware that EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Non-Native Species was due to be implemented within UK legislation via a Statutory Order from end of March 2019.
However, BDS now understand that the Coming Into Force Date for the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 will now be 1 October 2019, and that Natural England licences will be extended to remain valid until this date pending further consultation.
Further details will be published once known.
Sad news reached BDS this week of more deer deaths related to fencing.
Fencing in the Forest of Dean that had been put in place to protect rare butterflies caused the death of two deer, one a pregnant doe caught on barbed wire and another deer with broken legs. Local police confirmed that both deer had been humanely dispatched.
A Gloucestershire Police spokesperson said:
“I can confirm that on Friday, May 3, Gloucestershire Constabulary received two reports of injured deer in the Cinderford area and that both animals were humanely dispatched by authorised marksmen."
The deer were found by Mr Ray Puttock who commented about his discovery on social media where he raised concerns over the use of an extra strand of barbed wire.
Photo, by Ray Puttock, shows the doe fatally injured.
Holland & Holland are delighted to announce a bursary scheme for young people.
The Holland & Holland Bursary will award a young gamekeeper or stalker in the first five years of their career with up to £10,000 to pursue a project or course related to shooting and conservation.
Applicants have up to 31st May to send in a video or written piece describing what they would like to do with the prize. Whether it be a young stalker looking to do a postgraduate course in sustainable deer management, or a trainee gamekeeper hoping to learn from how grey partridges are managed in France, the bursary is designed to broaden the horizons of young gamekeepers.
Park managers at Margam Country Park have reported an increasing issue with owners allowing dogs to chase deer.
Many of the deer are heavily pregnant at this time of year with the dogs causing not only distress to the animals but also serious injuries or even death.
Deer-related vehicle accidents peak at this time of year, as young deer disperse and increasingly cross major roads to look for their own territories.
Scotland TranServ has identified key hot spots
The Forestry Commission has launched a Citizen Science project to encourage individuals to explore the UK's forests and the hidden life within them.
Enlisting the help of nature enthusiasts, to observe and monitor wildlife, creating a platform to help protect our wildlife now and in the future.
“The Big Forest Find is a great way to encourage people to explore the life behind and under the leaves! Get involved, get outside, get exploring and connect with the truly inspiring world of forests.”
– Michaela Strachan, TV Wildlife Presenter supporting the launch of The Big Forest Find.