Why manage deer?
Most farmers and landowners like to see some deer on their land. Recreational visitors love to see deer when they are out in the countryside. Other people also love to have venison on their plate. Large Estates can get a commercial return on deer. All in all deer are definitely an asset.
However deer have no natural predators in the UK and so without management their numbers tend to increase to a level where damage to crops and sapling trees in woodlands becomes unacceptable. They are competing for a limited food source and as such their condition will deteriorate resulting in a number of things:
- Increased parasitic burden
- increased susceptibility to other diseases such as TB
- a reduction in average carcass weight indicating a general animal welfare problem
Another ‘human’ consequence is the unfortunate rise in road traffic accidents. Every year thousands of people sustain injuries through deer collisions, many of which are fatal. The Deer Initiative estimates that somewhere between 40,000 and 74,000 deer are killed or injured on our roads every year. The incidents have a considerable impact:
- they present one of the main causes of mortality among wild populations of deer
- they pose a major animal welfare issue, because a high proportion of deer which are hit by cars are not killed outright: many have to be put down at the roadside, while others escape to die later of their injuries.
- they pose a safety hazard to road users, and lead to substantial damage to cars and numerous human injuries as well as a number of human fatalities in most years