The Deer Initiative

Deer management visit in the Forest of Bowland


Published date: 19/06/2015

Stalkers were offered the opportunity to see professional deer management undertaken by one of the leading environmental organisations and how it is best achieved. The Deer Initiative (DI), Forestry Commission (FC) north of England branch and the British Deer Society (BDS) were hosts to the 30 delegates visiting the Forest of Bowland. The evening was led by Wildlife Rangers James Upsom, the beat ranger for Bowland and Iain Yoxall beat ranger for adjoining beat. James gave a brief introduction about his role and how the FC undertook professional deer management in a high visitor accessed woodland (predominantly mountain bikers) of over 50,000 visitors.

The first stop was to the woodland where they had a look at their purpose deer larder where James explained how it was used and operated. Here they also had a quick Q&A session based around meat handling and bullets including copper. The group then proceeded to another location where they had a look at a doe box and a deer glade and how it had to adapt to handling sika deer. James commented on how elusive they could be and how he enjoyed stalking them.

The group drove up to another area where James explained about the level of detail the FC undertook prior to starting any tree felling. This all came in under the Ops 1 operation. James and Iain then explained the concept of why mounds were used to plant new trees. He explained that these would help to increase survival, decrease the chance of weeds and help decrease the chance of them drying out. Another topic discussed was quad bike extraction and how the FC used a large mound situated on the planted re-stock site for the ranger to lie on but to maximise deer management through an elevated position which is also very cost effective.

The visit ended at an area of planting that had been deer fenced and it was explained why it was fenced. Due to climate change the FC have had to experiment with Macedonian pine, which may be more tempting to the deer and not as deer resilient. There was also a discussion about by using a team of stalkers on a landscape scale, working collaboratively and by using best practice you can increase your chance of success.

A final Q&A was held, a raffle was drawn and a total of £155.00 was raised for the local BDS north west branch.

It was a very informative and interesting evening which was nicely led by James and Iain who are a credit to professional wildlife management and to the FC.

The DI believe this was a superb way for recreational stalkers to learn about or increase their deer management knowledge.

If you would like to know more about deer or deer management in northern England please contact Northern England Deer Liaison Officer Alastair Boston

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