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A new strategy for managing the growing number of deer in the woodlands of Wales was launched by Wales’s Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones today (Wednesday, February 16).
Wild deer are a valuable part of our natural heritage, and bring many benefits to the Welsh countryside. However, as numbers of wild deer increase, their impacts on agriculture, forestry and vulnerable habitats can become problematic, and the Welsh Assembly Government has published its approach to keeping deer numbers in check.
The Minister was at Dinefwr Park near Llandeilo – a medieval deer park – to launch The Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategy for Wild Deer Management in Wales.
Elin Jones said, “Wild deer are a wonderful sight and an asset to the Welsh landscape. We gain pleasure from seeing deer in the countryside, and some habitats are improved or maintained by their activity.
“However, deer can also have a number of unwelcome impacts upon habitats and biodiversity, and it is important that we have a strategy to keep the deer population in check.
“This strategy will help us achieve our vision that Wales benefits from its wild deer population in balance with the natural, social and economic environment.”
The strategy was developed in partnership by Forestry Commission Wales, The Deer Initiative, Countryside Council for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government.
It emphasises the importance of monitoring deer populations and assessing impacts to determine the need for action.
The actions include:
• adapting forest and woodland design and changing tree establishment techniques
• physical protection such as fencing and chemical deterrents or scaring devices
• promoting best practice for direct population management to ensure the welfare of the deer
• immuno-contraception techniques are also being researched as a means of controlling numbers.
The Minister said it was important that landowners, public bodies and non-governmental organisations joined forces to co-ordinate the management of deer.
The Minister also spelled out how many of the aims of Woodlands for Wales, the Assembly Government’s strategy for trees and woodlands, and other objectives for agriculture and the natural environment would be more difficult to implement without a strategic approach to wild deer:
• deer are very adept at moving through the countryside and woodland expansion, coupled with management of other habitats, has encouraged their spread, sometimes to the detriment of the managed and natural environment.
• while more mixed and native woodlands and greater use of continuous cover forestry – advocated in Woodlands for Wales – might be good for the people of Wales, they are also likely to favour an increased deer population.
• plans to improve the connectivity between our natural habitats will improve the ability of wildlife to expand their range and to increase their resilience to climate change but, just as this will help the wildlife we are trying to protect, it will also allow the spread of wild deer.
• while the number of deer collisions are relatively low in Wales compared to other parts of the UK, as deer numbers increase it is probable that the number of road accidents involving deer will rise.
The Minister also said that the strategy promoted best practice in deer management and handling which allowed venison from wild deer to be marketed and used in the food supply chain.
Welcoming the publication of the strategy, Jane Rabagliati, Chairman of the Deer Initiative Partnership, said, “The Deer Initiative has supported Welsh stakeholders in the development of this strategy and fully supports its vision and objectives.
"If wild deer are responsibly and sustainably managed we can continue to benefit from their presence and to enjoy the landscapes we share with them.
"We look forward to playing our part in delivering the strategy by helping to develop the action plan which will make its words reality.”
An action plan is being developed in order to deliver the strategy.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of public and private sector organisations dedicated to ensuring the achievement and maintenance of a sustainable and healthy population of wild deer in England and Wales. The Deer Initiative Partnership is supported by its executive arm, Deer Initiative Ltd.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
For more information on the deer strategy, contact FC Wales biodiversity adviser Chris Tucker on 01633 580239, mobile 07768 658042, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com