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DISTRIBUTION OF DEER IN SUFFOLK T H E E A R L OF C R A N B R O O K a n d W . H .

PAYN

THE original wild deer of Suffolk were exterminated many centuries ago and all that are now found in the county are the descendants of accidental or intentional introductions. The only known deliberate introduction was of roe deer from WĂźrtemburg which were released by W. D. Mackenzie in the Breck at the beginning of this Century. All the other deer now in the county are the descendants of those which have escaped from deer parks or of carted stag hunted by the Norwich Stag Hounds which were not recaptured at the end of a day's hunting. Since the last war there has been a marked increase in the number of these feral deer, the main cause being the great increase in the acreage of woodland. Much of this of course has been planted by the Forestry Commission but a fair amount by private landowners to replace that felled during the war and in both cases very largely conifers, which when they reach the thicket stage are very attractive to deer. Another factor has been a change of policy on the part of the Forestry Commission. Before the war when most of the Commission's plantations were young and exceedingly vulnerable to deer, the deer were looked upon as vermin. As the older plantations have matured the proportion of vulnerable ones in the whole has decreased and the Commission has found it possible to maintain quite a high population of deer without the damage done to the younger plantations being unsupportable. This demands careful management and all naturalists should be grateful to the Commission for the way in which it has adjusted its policy to changing circumstances. Another change has been the disappearance of many sources of accidental introduction. The Norwich Stag Hounds no longer exist and the number of deer parks has been dramatically reduced. Whitaker's Deer Parks and Paddocks of England published in 1892, recorded eleven deer parks in Suffolk with fallow deer, of which two also had red deer. Whitehead's Deer and their management, 1950, recorded four with fallow deer, including one with red deer. Today there are left only Helmingham, still with both red and fallow deer, and Ickworth with fallow. In spite of this, in many parts of the country the deer, which owe their presence to some deer park now closed, still exist and seem likely to continue. Deer moreover are great travellers and there is probably no parish in the county with a wood of any size in it which has not at some time or another held a deer. We have not recorded such of these casual occurrences as have been reported to us because it would give an entirely false impression but we set out below what has been seen in one parish, Great Glemham, over the past five years as something which is probably typical of most.


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1965 Five or six fallow deer spent some months in Wood B. 1967 Fallow deer seen once. 1968 Fallow deer seen several times near Wood A. 1969 Red deer stag seen once. All the above were seen during the summer: in no case was a deer seen when pheasant shooting in the following winter. The nearest well-established group of fallow deer is at Rendlesham about five miles away, of red deer at Heveningham about ten. In the memory of one of us (C) that is typical of what has happened in that parish over the past forty or fifty years: deer are occasionally seen, sometimes stay for a short period but, without any attempt being made to shoot or drive them away, soon disappear. Red D e e r (Cervus elaphus) In East Suffolk a group thought to number 25-30 in the Heveningham-Huntingfield-Walpole area seems to have started about twelve years ago when a single hind, probably originally lost by the Norwich Stag Hounds, turned up and had a calf: a stag was seen later in the same year. Hinds normally calve for the first time at three years of age, so that sort of increase is theoretically possible. In West Suffolk red deer are largely confined to the Breckland forests where small numbers occur, chiefly in winter, being part of the resident population north of the River Ouse.' U p to five red deer have also been reported during the past two years from Mellfield Wood and Free Wood at Bradfield St. George. Deer reported from as far east as Norton Wood are probably also red deer. Fallow D e e r (Dama dama) As pointed out above there were a number of herds of fallow deer in parks all over Suffolk and the existing wild herds can usually be traced to a neighbouring park. In East Suffolk fallow deer are well established in the Frostenden-Henham-Blyford area, at Dunwich, Tunstall, Rendlesham, between the Deben and Orwell, in the woods south of Ipswich, and in the area between Ashbocking and Helmingham: these are obviously associated with the park herds at Henham, Campsea Ash, Nacton, Woolverstone, Shrubland and Helmingham, all of which have now been dispersed save Helmingham. In West Suffolk they are found in the Forestry Commission woods between Brandon and Bury St. Edmunds, in the SaxhamIckworth-Whepstead area, round Stansfield, Cavendish and Boxted but mainly in the Easty and Northy woods, while there is a herd of about a dozen in the Kentwell Hall woods, between Stanstead and Bridge Street. Here again there is an association with the park herds at Livermere, Ickworth and Polstead. Of recent years fallow deer seem to be building up in the Hawstead-


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Lawshall-Stanningfield area where nineteen were seen together during the winter of 1968/9 with another small group, perhaps 6-12 beasts in the woods at Milden-Chelsworth-Whatfield. Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) The roe deer found in Suffolk must all be descended from those introduced by Mackenzie: roe-buck tend to wander widely before the rut but not the does, so the species has extended its ränge from the point of original introduction but slowly. In East Suffolk reports have been received of roe deer being seen in what is well known 'fallow deer country' south of Ipswich, round Nacton and at Rendlesham: the two species can be confused by an observer who is not well acquainted with both so these reports must await the verification of a corpse. Roe deer are now very plentiful throughout the Suffolk Breck, with an estimated population of about 120 in West Stow Forest and another thirty at Mildenhall. In 1968 as many as twenty-five roe were seen in a day in scattered groups by the R. Lark between Tuddenham and Cavenham (A. L. Bull, R. V. A. Marshall), and there is a resident population of about a dozen at Risby. During the past two years the roe has also begun to spread from the Breck forests eastwards to Troston, westwards to Herringswell and southwards across the main Bury-Newmarket road at least as far as Barrow. There are also reports of roe in Monks Park Wood and Felsham Wood and at Stanstead and Alpheton. Muntjac Deer (Muntiacus sp.) Muntjac are widely distributed in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and are obviously spreading having been reported from Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire and Norfolk. They are small and not gregarious, living singly or in pairs, and since they do not make their presence known as do other deer by damaging trees can exist unnoticed for a long time unless driven out in a covert shoot. They have been reported from various places in Suffolk, the most recent being at Ousden, in Bradfield Great Wood and West Stow Forest in 1968. Older records are from Framlingham towards the end of the War and Dunwich in the 1950s, while one was rescued from Lowestoft Harbour by the R.S.P.C.A. about five years ago. Two species of muntjac were released at Woburn by the late Duke of Bedford and it is thought that it is Reeve's muntjac from China, M. reevesi which is establishing itself. Maps We have only recorded on the maps those 10 Km. squares from which there has been reported a seif perpetuating group of feral deer or which forms part of the territory of such a group.


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As we have explained above deer, and in particular male deer, are great Wanderers and if a careful watch were kept throughout the county would probably be found to occur sometime or another in every 10 Km. Square in the county. If every such occurrence were recorded it would give a very false impression of the distribution of deer in Suffolk: to record only such occasional visitors as have been reported to us on the same map as that on which we record well established seif perpetuating groups would be more misleading. For the same reason we have not prepared a map recording reports of muntjac. Acknowledgements We are grateful to the following ladies and gentlemen for records: Major G. K. Agnew, P. A. Banks (Forestry Commission), A. L. Bull, R. W. Gough, J. E. B. Hill, A. E. Hillman (N.F.U.), G. Hudson, R. C. Kemball, Major B. King, D. C. King, W. Mann, W. G. Marriott, R. V. A. Marshall, C. S. Mead (Min. Ag.), B. E. Mitchell, Col. F. V. Oborne, H. W. Porter, M. Rabbett, R. S. Rouse (Forestry Commission), P. G. Shearer (N.F.U.), W. S. Simpson, H. E. P. Spencer, Gen. Sir W. Stirling, the Earl of Stradbroke, Mrs. H. R. Walrond.


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