Isle of Wight Deer Conservation Newsletter 2019

Red deer hinds on the Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight Deer Survey

During the past year there have been multiple sightings of wild deer on the island including this year’s offspring. It is mainly native red and roe that have been seen. Sadly one of these, a roe buck was found dead on a west Wight beach. The muntjac population appears to have remained at low levels and there have not been any reports of mass movements of fallow deer crossing the Solent. There have been no new sightings of sika deer and no reports of damage or other problems caused by deer. Chinese water deer have yet to be seen on the island.
Newclose farm near Carisbrooke have relaunched their deer enterprise with expanded herds of red and fallow and they are inviting members of the public to come and meet their deer. Isle of Wight Deer Farm.

Deer Management Plan for the Isle of Wight

Following feedback received in response to last year’s (2018) Newsletter article on Deer management Plans, Isle of Wight Deer Conservation would like to invite expressions of interest in a Best Practice based Deer Management Plan for the island from organisations, individual landowners and members of the general public. Please email your contributions to deerwight@gmail.com , thank you

Nature News

The Isle of Wight AONB have published their Statutory Management Plan 2019-2024 and in June it was announced that the Isle of Wight had achieved UNESCO Biosphere status, the designation recognises the island as one of the best areas in the world for managed landscapes, where human impact doesn’t detract from the natural beauty or wildlife. It is pleasing to note that neither organisation claim that deer are overgrazing or otherwise harming biodiversity on the island.

Isle of Wight AONB Management Plan 2019-2024

The management plan outlines principle reasons why the island is more biodiverse than much of the mainland and states:-
“The Isle of Wight AONB has a rich biodiversity largely due to the varied geology, landform and ongoing natural processes. The areas of chalk grassland; maritime slopes and cliffs; estuarine habitats; ancient woodlands and species are of particular importance regionally, nationally and internationally.
However, the Island is more fortunate than many areas in lowland Britain, in still having areas of interconnecting and wildlife-rich habitats. These may act as important sources of diversity, with the potential to recolonise the wider countryside if farming practice becomes less intensive. Island status has prevented the introduction of some species such as mink and grey squirrel, and, as a consequence, allowed populations of rare species such as dormouse, red squirrel and water vole to flourish. However it also prevents recolonization following local extinction. Three butterfly species have been lost from the Island in recent years and will not return without human intervention.”
It then goes on to comment on the importance of Ancient Woodlands and Wood Pastures:-
“A significant proportion of the Isle of Wight AONB woodland is classified as Ancient Woodland. This means woodland has been present on that site since at least 1600AD, making them an important historic landscape feature and a reflection of the continuation of the value of woodland for people. They are also considered to be important for biodiversity. The revised Isle of Wight provisional Ancient Woodland Inventory, published in 2014, gives us an up to date understanding of the abundance and distribution of ancient woodland which contributes to the overall landscape character.
Woodland in the Isle of Wight AONB is generally undermanaged and timber production is a marginal activity. Undermanaged woodlands will have an impact upon elements of ground flora and invertebrate interest and will influence the availability of habitat for key species. Veteran trees, wood pasture and parklands can be of great landscape, historic environment and biodiversity value, and also require sympathetic and careful management.
Three butterfly species have been lost from the Island since 2010: pearl-bordered fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary and Duke of Burgundy fritillary, the latter two from the Isle of Wight AONB, whilst reddish buff moth habitat has declined from 11 ha in 1996 to 4 ha in 2018.”
The Wood Edge and Wood Pasture in which these Lepidoptera thrive benefit greatly from being subject to appropriate deer grazing pressure. However the Forestry Commission has described these habitats on the Isle of Wight as “threatened”. Greater numbers of both native red and roe deer here may well have helped to prevent the sad loss of the three woodland butterflies and the endangerment of the reddish buff moth

Dung Beetles & Deer

Beetles are not perhaps something that you might immediately connect with deer however they are an integral part of the same food chain. Dung beetles in particular provide an important food source for many birds including those such as tawny owls which will only attempt to breed when prey species are plentiful and bats such as the rare greater horseshoe which feeds the beetles to its young. These beetles, along with the deer assist in the dispersal of the seeds of wild flora.

The Knepp Estate in Sussex is renowned for its successful rewilding project and it now claims to be:- “a breeding hotspot for critically endangered nightingales and turtle doves. Peregrine falcons, ravens, red kites, sparrowhawks, lesser-spotted woodpeckers, lapwings, skylarks, woodlarks, house sparrows, yellowhammers and woodcock” are also breeding there. They have “the largest population of purple emperor butterflies in the country, all five UK species of owls, and 13 out of the UK’s 17 species of breeding Bats. In addition to this occasional visitors that have been seen there include Montagu’s harrier, black tern, migrating white storks, a black stork in 2016”. They keep longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies and Tamworth pigs as substitutes for the wild equivalents, and amongst the wild species of large herbivore found there are Red, Roe and Fallow deer.
A recent study at Knepp looked into the abundance and diversity of dung beetles on the estate and drew a comparison with a nearby organic livestock farm. The study commented that “Unlike organic farming, the rewilding model provides dung beetles with a continuous supply of dung throughout the year, as a result of the continual grazing of its free roaming ungulates species. This is essential as it provides dung beetles with the resource they require for colonization and can promote greater numbers of more specialised species”

Isle of Wight Deer Conservation would like to express their gratitude to all those who have chosen to participate in the survey so far. 
Please see our FAQ’s about the island’s deer and for periodic updates email deerwight@gmail.com, thank you for your interest and support.

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Isle of Wight Deer Conservation

Isle of Wight Deer Conservation promotes the welfare and ethical management of the island's wild deer
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