Bucks – 1st Aug to 30 Apr
Doe – 1st Nov to 31 Mar
Although technically not the indigenous to the UK, Fallow are considered as a naturalised as a re-introduced species. Although fallow deer were present some 400,000 years ago in Britain, later glaciations restricted them to the Mediterranean basin. There are no reliable records of them being imported into Britain before the Norman Conquest, after which they were kept widely in parks for both food and ornament. They were also preserved in the wild for hunting in areas such as Epping Forest and the New Forest.
Fallow are a herding species and exhibit extreme flexibility in most aspects of their social organisation, group size is flexible and influenced by both habitat and season. In high-density populations in large woodlands such as we have in some areas of the Cotswolds, males live in separate groups to the females and young, except during the autumn rut. In lower-density populations in agricultural areas, however, mixed-sex groups may regularly occur throughout the winter. Fallow have a variety of mating systems ranging from non-territorial defence of harems to the development of clusters of small mating territories or “leks”. Fallow generally produce single fawns on an annual basis.
The ideal habitat is a mosaic of established mixed broad-leaved woodlands and arable fields. However, fallow make a living in a range of habitats, from commercial conifer plantations to large open agricultural areas with small woodlands. Although primarily grazers, they take a variety of vegetation and, at high densities, may cause considerable damage to woodland flora and forestry or farm crops.
The browsing of tree shoots and marauding of agricultural crops by fallow deer causes much conflict with farmers and foresters, due to the economic loss sustained. Fallow deer can reach high local densities in the several areas in the Cotswolds which give rise to unacceptable levels of damage.
Management of fallow populations is considered to be essential and may only be effective if carried out by collaborating on a landscape scale because of the tendency for fallow herds to move widely across their habitat.