NATURE NOTES - A problem with deer?

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I WAS invited to attend a Deer Seminar last week organised by the Forestry Commission and the Community Forests. The growing number of deer in Wigan has quite a few impacts that people are not aware of (and that was myself included!)

The Deer Initiative Partnership, was established in 1995 to promote the sustainable management of wild deer in England, and was extended to Wales in 1999. We are a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private organisations with a shared vision for the sustainable management of wild deer.

The six deer species of deer (four are introduced) living wild in the UK are increasing in distribution and number. To manage deer sustainably, we face certain challenges.

Deer often have specific impacts on vulnerable habitat as well as agriculture and forestry, tree planting schemes and green spaces.

Deer tend to range over large areas (beyond site boundaries) and need to be managed on a landscape scale, with collaboration between landowners.

Deer are among the largest wild mammals in the UK, and collisions with vehicles are serious and costly (annually up to 74,000 collisions with 10-20 human fatalities and up to 700 human injuries)

We need specific standards and skills to ensure safe, effective, humane management of deer - including in the urban environment

The Deer Initiative is working with a wide range of stakeholders to tackle all of these challenges, and we are helping our Partners in Government to develop the right framework to support this.

Our Government funders include Defra, the Forestry Commission (England and Wales), Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales. We also get significant support from the private and voluntary sectors via our Partners and other stakeholders. About half of our resources come in the form of in-kind support (i.e. non-cash contributions).

The collision figures surprised me, especially the 10–20 fatalities and 700 injuries.

I know of three collisions in the last six months where thankfully no-one was injured (apart from the roe deer which in all cases died). It probably won’t be that far away before we decide to signpost areas where deer regularly cross busy roads.

Another surprise was I thought that only roe deer were resident here in Wigan but that will change pretty soon!

Within Northern England roe, red, fallow, sika and muntjac are all present.

There are both Sika and fallow deer on the boroughs boundary and fallow regularly cross into Wigan to feed.

It is widely accepted that deer are more abundant and widespread now than at any time in the past 1000 years.

Deer populations have increased rapidly in recent decades due to several factors, including: Milder winters; Changes to agriculture such as the planting of winter crops; Increased woodland cover; Escapes and releases from parks and farms; and Greater connectivity between green spaces in urban areas.