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MANAGING DEER

Each of our six species of wild deer has expanded in numbers and distribution over the past 30 years, some massively and some modestly, but all with an impact on their environment or upon human endeavour.

As a prey species, deer breed more rapidly than is necessary simply to sustain their population. One hundred roe deer, for example, uncontrolled but allowing for known birth and mortality rates, can grow to as many as one thousand in just ten years.

Such a population can only be sustained by pioneering new territory, territory which is no longer available to them as distribution now covers every suitable county of the UK.

The Role of Culling

Deer are an important species which contribute positively to our biodiversity. They are also much loved and valued for the pleasure they bring, even though the times of their activity means that many people are unaware of their close proximity and high numbers.

In the absence of natural predation it falls to man to manage the ever growing populations, but to manage them with care, with respect and with deference to scientific knowledge.

With fertility control impossible to deliver in the wild, management usually means culling to a plan which replicates a similar impact to that of natural predation.

 

The Challenges Around Deer Contraception

Humane management

Culling deer carries great responsibility and one of the British Deer Society’s founding principles is the promotion of humane control using the appropriate tools and within best practice guidelines.

We pioneered deer stalker training to ensure that all those involved in deer management had the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the task with aptitude, respect and sensitivity.

Deer management should be seen as necessary, beneficial, environmentally responsible and a positive contribution to overall deer welfare.

Those who manage deer also love deer.

Legal Protection & Close season

Wild deer in the UK are covered by comprehensive legal protection and some of the relevant legislation concerning deer in England and Wales is below:

Separate specific legislation also exists for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

CLOSE SEASON

In order to protect female deer and their young and male deer while their antlers are growing, the UK operates a close season system that specifies when the culling of different species may not take place.

However, there may be circumstances where culling has to take place during the close season, such as the need to deal with injured or sick deer.

Species

Sex

Close Season England, Wales & N Ireland

Close Season Scotland

Male

1 May - 31 Jul

21 Oct - 30 Jun

Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

16 Feb - 20 Oct

Red/ Sika hybrids

Male

1 May - 31 Jul

21 Oct - 30 Jun

Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

16 Feb - 20 Oct

Male

1 May - 31 Jul

21 Oct - 30 Jun

Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

16 Feb - 20 Oct

Male

1 May - 31 Jul

1 May - 31 Jul

Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

16 Feb - 20 Oct

Male

1 Nov - 31 Mar

21 Oct - 31 Mar

Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

1 April - 20 Oct

Male & Female

1 Apr - 31 Oct

Not present so no close season

Male & Female

No Close Season

No Close Season

* There is no close season for muntjac as they breed throughout the year.

Further Reading

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