The Deer Initiative

What we do

Promoting animal health

While wild deer are relatively disease free, maintaining a population of healthy wild deer should be an important objective in their management and should reduce the risk of disease transmission to humans, domestic livestock and other wildlife.

Sustainable deer management relies on sound scientific evidence. One of the roles of the Deer Initiative is to enhance the capability to react effectively to contain and control emerging zoonoses and other animal health issues relating to deer. We do this by ensuring that our Partner organisations, including those in the Defra family, can work together to assess the evidence and agree appropriate solutions. We also help build capacity through training for example in disease recognition and sampling.

During normal management practices, early diagnosis and detection of infections by practitioners may be an important element in the control of diseases, especially those which may affect the health of humans or livestock.

There are two reasons why managers need to recognise poor health in both live and shot deer:

  • To be able to identify and report notifiable diseases
  • To ensure the quality of venison entering the food chain

Ill health, which interferes with the normal habits of the deer, is usually detected by noticing symptoms in live deer and signs of illness in a carcass. Practitioners need both knowledge of what is normal and an understanding of the signs and symptoms of disease.

To find out more, view our Best Practice guides

The Deer Initiative

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