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Ask BDS – Deer and land development

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Article by:
Charles Smith-Jones, Technical Adviser, British Deer Society

Deer and land development

The British Deer Society often receives enquiries from concerned local residents regarding new housing, solar farms or other developments on land where they regularly see deer.

Although all deer receive protection under the Deer Act 1991, its provisions are unlikely to apply in such cases, as they are not environmentally sensitive species in the way that other species (such as bats or dormice) can be, when projects and developments are being considered.  As such they are not afforded any special protection under these circumstances, although it would be reasonable to expect that a full ecological survey takes place as part of any planning process. 

If there are other, more sensitive, species present this may well have a more significant impact on planning, and of course, any potential road issues should have been addressed at the same time.  For anyone concerned about such developments, it can be worth considering approaching the Wildlife Trust for the region The Wildlife Trusts who would be able to take a wider view and advise on the other species that could be affected.

Deer usually adapt quickly to changes in their environment and are frequently content to live close to human housing and activity as long as there is suitable food and cover close to hand.  If their habitat is removed completely, however, they may well be forced to move elsewhere if they find that the new circumstances do not suit them.  Once any clearance work starts they will usually be sufficiently disturbed to be displaced, and in many cases will probably already be moving widely within the local area already as part of their established feeding patterns.

The most movement will probably take place quietly at night as long as the deer are not pressed too hard.   If there is any danger of deer becoming trapped in an enclosed area and it is not possible to leave gates or other suitable exit points open, a gap under a fence of just a few inches is quite sufficient for a deer such as a roe or muntjac to squeeze through.  

Every day BDS receives enquiries about deer and our team works hard to make sure that every query receives a response.

By being a BDS member, you are helping us to educate and support people and communities with questions about deer across the UK and beyond.

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