New Forest Deer
The New Forest is full of beautiful wildlife that visitors can enjoy watching, one of the animals that makes the the New Forest woodland its home are deer.
The four main types of deer that can be found in the New Forest today are fallow, roe, red and sika deer. Muntjak have also been seen in the forest too.
Deer are notoriously shy animals and tend to keep to the quieter parts of the forest during the day, but at dusk and dawn they can venture near the roadsides so take care when driving.
Deer are herd animals and move together in groups so are rarely alone, the forest woodland provides good cover and shelter from the elements.
Autumn is a good time of year to see deer as it is rutting (mating) season for most species.
If you are looking for a little adventure then a New Forest deer safari is great for those that are looking for exciting things to do with children in the New Forest.
It is believed that fallow deer were first introduced into Britain by the Romans; The New Forest was also William the Conqueror’s first hunting forest in England. In the seventeenth century the deer census in the New Forest was reported to be a population of 7,500 fallow deer, today there are about 1,300 in the New Forest.
Fallow deer are about one metre high, and are most easily spotted by their distinctive black and white rump. In the summer months the fallow deer have a light chestnut-coloured coat with white spots, this then change to an unspotted grey-brown coat in the winter months.
Bolderwood is a great spot for deer watching with its purpose built platform where you can watch the deer being fed from April - September.
Roe deer are rather small measuring around 60cm; the rump is white and also has a white patch under the chin. They have short, three-pointed antlers.
The roe deer’s winter coat is a grey-brown colour, but then changes in the summer to a bright red and brown coat. At last count there were 365 roe deer in the New Forest.
At 1.2m high the red deer is the largest wild animal in Britain. They are rich red-brown in colour with a pale brown patch on the backside.
Found mainly the west of the New Forest, as The Forestry Commission aims to maintain the herds in this area to avoid the risk of cross-breeding with Sika deer.
Originally from Japan, the New Forest sika are descended from those given to the 2nd Baron Montagu at Beaulieu by King Edward VII.
Sika are kept in the Beaulieu area by The Forestry Commission to avoid cross-breeding (hybridisation) with the red deer found in the west of the New Forest. Numbers are maintained at about 100.
Sika deer are of similar size to red deer with their summer coat a chestnut brown, spotted with white, but this becomes greyish in the winter and the spots disappear.
Muntjac are small, dog-sized creatures with long back legs and are often called barking deer as they repeatively bark loudly; they also scream or squeak when alarmed. Muntjac are not often seen in the New Forest: however you are most likely to spot them around Beaulieu.
Muntjac can breed all year round, with the females able to conceive again within days of giving birth.
Muntjac numbers are increasing so the Forestry Commission has a policy of culling them because they represent a threat to roe deer.
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