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Wildlife Column: Watching out for the Roe Deer...

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Sara Scharf emailed and sent a photograph taken Alkborough Flats nature reserve, which is on the southern bank of the great Humber Estuary. Sara and her partner were visiting England to walk the Cleveland Way. Having come all the way from Canada they were visiting the birthplace of his great-great-great-great paternal grandfather.

He was from Alkborough, a small village close to the extensive wetland wildlife site of Alkborough Flats. An unexpected sighting was of a deer on the wetland, and being from North America, Sara wasn’t sure which species it might be and found our web-guide on the UKECONET website.

She then emailed to check which one it might be and that was quite easy given such a great picture. It is of course a male or buck roe deer and a good specimen too. The well-developed prongs are the giveaway. This is indeed the species most likely to be seen in and around the Humber Estuary and the great wetlands of the Humberhead Levels. Roe deer has been increasing in numbers over recent decades but then so too has its alien cousin, the diminutive muntjac.

The latter has travelled all the way from Asia to colonise Britain during the twentieth century. Also in the area is the much bigger red deer, but over to the east of our region they are still in relatively isolated pockets. In the Peak and Pennines the numbers are increasing. However, the two most widespread species are now roe and muntjac and it is worth looking for them almost anywhere from the moorland fringes, through farmland and woods, to the heart of the towns and cities – they are there. Sadly, you can also spot the dead carcasses of deer by the roadside; victims of ‘RTAs’ or Road Traffic Accidents. Most frequently you will see roe deer and muntjac, but sometimes red too. This is bad for the deer and for the driver too since even a small or medium-sized deer can do a lot of damage when in collision with a car travelling at speed. Please do send in records and photographs.

Professor Ian D. Rotherham, of Sheffield Hallam University, researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues.