OH DEER! NOW BAMBI'S A PEST; Plan to Give Does Birth Control to Curb Explosion in Numbers

Article excerpt


WALES' wild deer could be given the pill to keep numbers under control, amid fears the animals pose a serious road accident threat.

The nation's booming wild deer population could top 55,000 by 2015, from a population of around 16,000 in 2008, according to some expert predictions, with some species damaging the natural habitat.

A Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) spokeswoman said: "Wales has populations of native red and roe deer, as well as naturalised fallow deer.

"There is an expanding population of the invasive non-native muntjac deer that has the potential to make significant negative impacts on our native ground flora and in some areas displace the native roe."

A growing deer population is also likely to lead to an increase in collisions with vehicles, which can cause serious injuries to motorists, say experts.

Dr Jochen Langbein, from the Deer Collision Project, said: "There are about 10 human fatalities every year (in the UK) because of deer vehicle collisions, though only one in 1,000 incidents end up in actual human injury."

He said statistics for the number of deer hit by vehicles in Wales is currently lower than in England, with around 200 to 500 reports a year, though this is probably an underestimate and the number is rising.

Current hotspots for road accidents are North East Wales, Carmarthenshire, the Wye Valley and Neath Port Talbot.

AA spokesman Andrew Howard said the increased risk in accidents involving deer is that their centre of gravity means a collision can flip or roll them up over the bonnet onto the windshield.

While there is currently no immuno-contraception method available for deer, Defra research into oral contraceptives is ongoing, with work on wild boar and urban badgers due to report this year, with a view to beginning testing on deer.

An FCW spokeswoman said: "It may be that future developments in the use of long-term contraception will provide opportunities to complement the culling of deer as an additional method of population control, particularly in urban and periurban areas. …