Deer Management

The need for deer control.

Why manage deer? There are many reasons why deer should be managed, I will try to point out most obvious arguments.

  • Damage to trees, woodland flora and wildlife habitats.  Deer do some damage to trees and can be a nuisance in young plantations. Most common types of damage is roebuck fraying, sika deer “bole scoring” and red deer bark striping, however all six species of deer present in the UK will cause woodland damage.

Browsing.  All deer species like young plant shots and leaves. Trees in a woodland with a population of deer present will show signs of browsing. A hight of browsing will help identify species responsible.

Bark stripping. Red, sika and fallow deer will also peel and eat bark. This type of damage can kill the tree.

Fraying. Male deer will use trees to mark territories and to remove velvet off their antlers. Roebucks will cause fraying damage in Spring when marking down territories as well as Summer during rut. Red, fallow, sika and muntjac will do it in late Summer and Autumn.

  • Damage to farm crops,  gardens and orchards. Deer can cause substantial damage to all farm crops, but some crops are preferred. Oilseed rape, turnips, carrots, kale all work as magnets to deer. Some deer can travel quite a distance to get to their favorite food. I frequently observed large groups of 15-20 deer staying day and night on rape fields. In Summer rape fields and maze are also home to wild boar that prefer staying there during daytime hours.
  • Overgrazing. Farmers want to optimise the number of animals held and maximise profits by having as many animals per acre of land as possible. Too many deer on moor and pastures means cattle and sheep do not get enough grass which leads to overgrazing.
  • More traffic accidents. There are not many deer-related Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) records. Natural England reported 20-60,000 deer-related RTAs for the UK including 15 fatalities and estimated cost of damage to £10.5 million per year. Large number of deer in a specific area means more accidents. It is especially true with territorial species, such as roe. Mature roebucks will not tolerate young males of their territories and younger deer will be pushed out and forced to find own area increasing chances to cause an RTA.
  • Poor health for the deer themselves if their numbers are greater than the habitat can support. There are no large predators such as wolves and bears in the UK so mature deer have no natural enemies. When deer numbers are greater than the habitat can support deer suffer from food deficiency, weight loss, poor antlers and become susceptible to disease. A healthy population also means higher average body weight and bigger antlers.

Benefits of deer management.

Why deer control is beneficial?

  • Less woodland and farm crop damage. For many farmers and forestry companies this is main argument for deer management.
  • Venison. All cull deer should end in a food chain. I personally cannot think of any tastier and healthier meat available.
  • Healthier deer. Deer welfare should be a prime concern for any deer manager. So the healthier the deer, the better job done.
  • Less RTAs. This is an important argument in peri-urban areas and near motorways and busy roads.

How to control deer?

In my opinion deer culling is the only human method available. Other techniques such as fencing, deer deterrants and tree guards are helpful, but are not a permanent solution to deer problems.  I personally have not seen a deer proof fence yet, but fencing is an option and might be a must for small areas of young plantations. I have also seen deer trapped and caught in barbed wire lines. Fences should be kept in a good state and immediately repaired or removed when they served their purpose.

Our hunting club experimented with deer and wild boar deterrants as well as electric fences with very little success.

If possible deer managers should have impact on the design of new habitats. It is so much easier to control deer if new woodland is planted with deer management in mind.

I can do it for you.

I can help with all aspects of deer control. I have been a member of deer management group in Poland controlling wild boar and deer population on over 50,000 acres of farmland and forestry. I can help with deer, fox and pest control within reasonable driving distance from Glasgow, Scotland.

I hold current firearms certificate and deer legal rifles. I have relevant DMQ level 1 and 2  qualification ensuring all culling is conducted according to current industry best practice and venison meets hygiene standards and ends up in a food chain. I am also a member of the British Deer Society and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation as well as have relevant insurance.

I am also registered as fit and competent with the SNH and can help landowners if out of season culling is necessary.

Please feel free to contact me with any question using the contact form provided.