Roe Deer in the Midlands
The Roe Deer is one of the truly native deer of the British Isles, the other being the red deer. Records of them date to before the Mesolithic period (6000 to 10000 years BC).They are abundant throughout the UK but are not found in Northern Ireland.
They are strongly associated with woodlands and have increased in both population and distribution with the increase in woodland planting in the 20th century and strategic reintroductions in Victorian times. Previously, roe deer suffered an almost catastrophic decline due to over-hunting and deforestation. Roe deer are particularly associated with the edges of woodlands and forests. They are also found in areas with copses, scrub and hedgerows and use agricultural fields in these areas too. They are increasingly entering areas closer to our towns and cities as they take advantage of more urban habitats.
Roe deer when fully grown they weigh between 10 to 25kg. By comparison, an average adult man in Britain is 1.77m high and weighs 79kg. Male roe are called bucks, females are does and the young kids. Roe vary in coat colour throughout the year, being most distinguishable in the summer when their coats are bright rusty red. In winter, their coats turn a dull, slate grey colour.
Both sexes have a prominent white rump and no visible tail. Females, (does) have a small ‘tush’ or tuft of hair similar to a tail at the base of the rump patch during the winter. Roe deer have large black eyes, noses, and mouths surrounded by white/pale areas. They have large ears. Males (bucks) have small antlers, which have three points each when fully grown. Antlers are described as ‘pearled’ or ‘bearded’ when they are heavily textured with lots of nodules.
Roe are dainty creatures and leave small hoof prints (slots) about 4cm long in soft ground. They use well-worn paths across their range along, which you may find faeces either scattered or in small groups. Other characteristic signs are frayed areas of small trees where they rub on over-hanging branches and disturbed areas of soft ground and vegetation which deer have scraped and dug with their hooves. Frequently they also urinate to mark their territory.’ (Taken from the British Deer Society leaflet)
The Roe Deer can be found in most counties of the Midlands though not all; in my area on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border they are only recently being seen. They can now be seen fairly frequently in the North Staffordshire Moorlands and in fact last year one had to be removed from a school playground in the middle of Stoke on Trent. They have also been seen and confirmed to be on the south side of Cannock Chase. This area of Staffordshire now has five of the six species of deer that are resident in the UK. There have also been sighted along the border of Staffordshire and Derbyshire between Ashbourne and Litchfield. All this confirms that this beautiful little deer is indeed spreading and populating all of the Midland Counties.
This beautiful little deer continues to expand it territories much to the delight of some and to the distain of others, to me it is the most endearing of the six species found in the UK.
This week the Mammal Society are calling for people to record their sightings of deer in their Mammal Mapper app, to help understand the distribution of the various species.
This blog is written by Ian Skelton who is the Chair of the Midlands, Wales and The Marches Branch of the British Deer Society.