The Deer Initiative

About wild deer

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)

The red deer is Britain’s largest native land mammal (adult stags weigh up to 190 kg and are up to around 140 cm at the shoulder). There have been laws to protect red deer since Saxon times and they have survived in fluctuating numbers through the Middle Ages to modern times.

In England the main concentrations are in south-western England, East Anglia, and the Lake District with a wide scatter of local herds elsewhere. In Wales there are a small number of isolated herds. Some populations, notably those in the west of England, may be considered native, although even these may have had introduction of new blood in the past. Others owe their origins to escapes from parks or to deliberate introductions.

Red deer are animals of woodland associated with open areas. They will sometimes spend their time almost exclusively in the open. They are herding animals which rut in the autumn, usually producing single calves in the spring.

The genetic integrity of red deer is threatened by interbreeding with sika deer. In areas where both are present such as the New Forest, attempts are made to keep the species separate by selective culling.

At high densities red deer can be very damaging to habitats and crops. Red deer may cover very large distances in their daily or seasonal movements and cooperative management across boundaries is the best way to manage them across the herd range.

Useful links

Red deer Red deer map

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