Estates perspective: Deer management
March 2013: In response to news that over half of the UK’s growing deer population needs to be culled each year to prevent the devastation of woodland and birdlife, here is an overview of the situation in East Devon:
Britain has two indigenous deer species; the Roe and the Red. The Norman’s introduced the Fallow deer but now we have a total of six species living wild with the addition of the Muntjac, Sika and Chinese Water Deer.
Roe deer live in small family groups which cause less damage than the transient, herding deer such as the Japanese Sika that can wipe out a crop in one visit. Sika do something called bore-holing, boring their antlers into the tree and killing it.
We expect to see Muntjac here soon and they have already been spotted north of Exeter. This species is particularly partial to bluebells and can destroy a whole bluebell wood because they eat the whole of the plant. Muntjac spread quickly as they breed all year round. I expect to see them on estate land within the next five years – they may even be here now. The Muntjac is an elusive animal, around the size of a spaniel. By the time you spot one there will already be an established population.
Deer management is an important part of our overall land management strategy however over the last five years The Estates have created a successful local market for vension products which makes necessary culling activity economically effective and ethically acceptable.
We now produce packs of roasting joints, fillet steak and casserole meat, as well as homemade sausages and burgers, to sell at Budleigh Salterton Farmers Market and the local community shop. Clinton wild venison from East Devon is now produced, butchered and sold within five miles.
The Budleigh Salterton Farmers Market runs on the last Friday of the month between 9am and 1pm at the Rolle Mews Carpark.