Red deer numbers on the Quantocks are falling, recent count shows
Numbers of wild red deer on the Quantocks Hills are at their lowest for over a decade, according to results in the latest annual count, writes Martin Hesp.
"A total of 386 different red deer were recorded on the day," said Dr Jochen Langbein, of the Quantock Deer Management and Conservation Group (QDMCG), which organised the survey earlier this month. "This is the lowest count of red deer obtained under good counting conditions since 1996. He said it suggested a continuing downward trend in red deer numbers on the Quantocks.
The QDMCG – which is made of up of local landowners and representatives from special interest groups varying from hunters to anti-blood-sports lobbyists – has been staging the annual deer count since 1991.
"The number is a long way down – but I am merely involved on the counting side – what the right number is, is up to individual landowners," commented Dr Langbein. "What I would say is that there could be a problem if people go on shooting as much as they have in the past few years."
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One other possible reason for the reduced count could be that stands of tall miscanthus (elephant grass) have been planted in fields surrounding the flanks of the hills. "Some people say there may be another 30 or 40 deer lying in there – the miscanthus is so thick and tall it is impossible to say," said Dr Langbein.