DI in England
Counties covered: Cheshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Deer species present: Muntjac, roe, fallow, red and Chinese water deer.
Key issues: Excessive deer impact in areas of extensive Ancient Woodland.and in areas of SSSI Woodland. Damage to cereal crops in the East in particular through lying up as well as eating.
Thanks to funding from Natural England and Forestry Commission England two deer projects run in the East and West Midlands respectively, their overarching aim being to safeguard woodland SSSI and ancient woodland habitat by securing regeneration and improving condition.
Success depends on managing wild deer sustainably and in balance with the environment in which they inhabit. Not only does this mean reduced impact on our woodland heritage but also reduced impact on agricultural crops and working towards less road traffic accidents involving deer.
The region comprises varying densities of all 6 species of deer with exceptionally fast growing populations of muntjac and, to a slightly lesser extent, roe. Chinese water deer can be found in low densities in the eastern extremities of the region quietly migrating through from Cambridgeshire and the east.
Populations of red deer are present to the east of Cannock Chase and north east of Birmingham where they move into more heavily established herds further into Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and beyond.
Muntjac, roe and fallow are by far the most established species with high densities of fallow located intermittently across middle England with key populations located in Rockingham, Wye Valley, Forest of Dean, Stratford and much of Herefordshire as well as other areas. Roe and muntjac are well established in varying extents right across the midlands and can now be found regularly in the Wye Valley and western edge of the National Forest as well as significant densities in Lincolnshire, in particular in the south of the county.
Areas of key concern in terms of species density remain Rockingham Forest where the numbers of fallow and muntjac continue to cause great concern and also in the Wye Valley where the issue is slowly turning from excessive numbers of fallow to maintaining pressure on the fallow and focussing on growing number of muntjac migrating in from the North.
Collaborative deer management
Visits to this site have taken place to monitor habitat recovery progression and to liaise with both the owner and the wider Deer Management Group (DMG). Further fixed point monitoring was done from previous stand points illustrating habitat growth to be more virulent than previous years. Monitoring will continue as will liaison with the land owner and the wider DMG to build on the good work done here. The Dinmore DMG continues to be a valuable tool in liaising with local landowners and occupiers.
Previously one of the worst deer-vehicle collision hotspots in the UK, with help from the DI the Dinmore and Canon Pyon Deer Management Group implemented a coordinated deer culling programme that led to habitat improvements and a drop in road accidents involving deer. There will be continued monitoring of browsing impacts on ground flora diversity as well as assessment of damage to natural regeneration and coppice.
The DI has been busy working on a venison marketing project since the completion of the Rockingham Venison marketing feasibility study was compiled in 2009. A launch event was held at the Haycock in Stamford and following this there was considerable interest in taking up a 50% grant for improvement of larder and processing facilities.
Forestry Commission, English Woodland Grants Scheme: www.forestry.gov.uk/ewgs
Natural England webpage on funding for the natural environment: www.naturalengland.org.uk/grantsfunding/default.aspx
The National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project: www.deercollisions.co.uk
DeerAware Driver Awareness Campaign: www.deeraware.com