There are six species of deer that can be found wild in the British Isles. Only Red and Roe deer are considered as native. Even so during the 19th century Roe deer where in so low numbers in England and Wales that quite a number were imported from Europe. Of the other four, Fallow have been here the longest and were brought over by the Romans. There is another subspecies of Fallow deer that come from the Middle East and are known as Persian deer. These were thought to be extinct but some were found in Iran and now the numbers have been increased, mainly in private deer parks throughout the world. Then there are the Sika deer which were introduced in the early 20th century. Unfortunately these have been a little to successful at breeding and worse still they will also breed with the Red deer diluting the Red deer gene pool, more here on Sika deer. Then there are the Muntjac deer, these little deer escaped from Woban and Whipsnade zoo in the 19th & 20th centuries. They have spread at an alarming rate and can now be found over much of the British Isles including Ireland, see here for more information. Last but not least are the Chinese water deer. These believe it or not can from China 🙂 They are not so wide-spread as they prefer marsh and swampy areas, click here for more information.
So what deer do we find at Wimpole, Originally there were only the Fallow deer in the deer park at Wimpole with some escapees but by the late 1880’s the 300 Fallow deer herd from the park were disposed of. This meant that there were only a very few left in west Cambridgeshire all descended from the park escapees. These have increased in numbers especially over the last 60 years and caused some problems with the native woodland flora most notably the Oxslip. The most common deer at Wimpole is the Muntjac deer, they are a jungle species so enjoy thick woodland or scrubland and generally only come out at dawn and dusk. Numbers are so high that they do cause quite significant damage in the woodlands but even the Head gardener complains as they do seem to have a liking for his roses and other flowering plants. Today if you visit Wimpole unless you are very lucky you wont see Fallow deer as there is too much disturbance and they tend to roam further west near Hatley wood. However it is always possible to see a Muntjac deer as they have very small territories and do not roam around the countryside quite like the Fallow deer.
Fallow video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uasmYDr8UpM