Different species of deer are part of our wildlife inheritance
- Credit: Stefan Drew
Stefan Drew writes for the Herald on behalf of the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group
There are over two million deer roaming the British countryside. We have six species of deer in the UK so it always surprises me when people tell me they have never seen a wild deer.
The Sid Valley is home to a good population of roe deer. Roe have been with us since the last ice age. They are medium size deer with the males standing 0.75 m shoulder height and weighing up to 25 kg. Mature males have short pointed antlers. Roe love woodlands and are often seen at woodland edges, in woodland glades and in fields near woodland, which makes the Sid Valley an ideal location for them.
Red deer are also native to this country, much bigger than Roe and possibly infrequent visitors to the Valley. They are mainly found on open moors such as Exmoor, but I’ve seen one in the Culm Valley.
Other deer species now at home in England include Sika, Chinese Water, Muntjac and Fallow. The Romans allegedly introduced Fallow deer and they were often the deer hunted by noblemen on horseback.
The other three species have arrived via animal collections such as Woburn. Sika have been with us only since being introduced in 1860 and are common in the New Forest and at Arne. Sika were first recorded in East Devon in 2017 at Trinity Hill Nature Reserve near Axminster.
As the name suggests, Chinese Water Deer love water. They are from China and Korea and have long canines, rounded ears and no antlers. They are mainly found in Eastern England with no records in Devon as far as I’m aware.
Muntjac deer are one of my favourites. Escapees from Woburn have populated much of south and eastern England and are heading our way. There have been a few disputed reports of them in Devon and I expect to see them in the valley within a few years. When we lived in Warwickshire we had them visit our garden and they delighted us as they browsed our shrubs.
I’d welcome muntjac into my Sid Valley garden. Would you?