Other Mammal Species – Ungulates

Deer are one of the most frequently encountered groups of mammals and sika and roe deer in particular are easily encountered in many parts of the county with fallow deer and Reeves’ muntjac being encountered less frequently. In addition wild boar has become re-established in the west of the county.

Red deer Cervus elaphus

Red deer occur widely but not continuously across mainland Britain and the Western Isles with the largest numbers occurring in the Scottish highlands and islands, SW Scotland, and Exmoor and the Quantocks in SW England. Other reasonably sized populations occur in the New Forest in Hampshire, in East Anglia and NW England. In some areas of Scotland populations are at risk from hybridisation with the introduced and rapidly spreading sika deer.

Photo: Colin Varndell

Status in Dorset:

Formally regularly encountered in the Poole Harbour area but rarely encountered now although with populations still well-established over the border in the New Forest the occasional straggler can be expected.

Sika Deer Cervus nippon

Sika deer have become established in many parts of mainland Britain as a result of escapes from deer parks and the Poole basin is one of their two strongholds in southern Britain.

Photo: Colin Varndell

Status in Dorset:

Sika deer are a common sight in Dorset particularly around Poole harbour and the Purbecks but have now spread widely across the county. They can easily be seen around sites such as Wareham Forest, Hartland Moor and the RSPB Reserve at Arne and herds of 100 animals are not unusual in winter. Although generally easy to find throughout the day they are most conspicuous early and particularly late in the day when disturbance is lower.

Fallow Deer Dama dama

Fallow deer were reintroduced to Britain by the Normans during the 11th century and all free-living wild fallow deer in Britain descend from either these introductions or subsequent escapes from deer parks. They are now the most widely distributed deer in woodland and farmland in Britain.

Photo: Colin Varndell

Status in Dorset:

Scarcer than sika in most of the county although seem to replace sika in woodlands in the far north and west of the county.

Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus

Widespread in mainland Britain and in the Inner Hebrides although missing from a broad swathe of the country from North Kent through London and then north-west across the Midlands to Cheshire. Also absent from much of Wales.

Photo: Colin Varndell

Status in Dorset:

The most widely distributed deer in Dorset and relatively easy to see in woodland, heathland and farmland throughout the county albeit in smaller numbers than sika.

Reeves’ Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi

Introduced to Britain in woods around Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the late 19th century this small deer has spread widely and is very common around London and the Home Counties, in the Midlands and East Anglia. It is gradually spreading south and there were 48 reports from neighbouring Hampshire between 2001 and 2010 although it probably remains under-reported.

Photo: Colin Varndell

Status in Dorset:

Scattered records around the county although remains scarce. A recent record from the Isle of Portland is missing from the map.

Wild Boar Sus scrofa

Wild boar became extinct in Britain probably around 1300. Since the late 1980s escapes from wild boar farms and possibly deliberate reintroductions have resulted in free-living populations becoming established in Kent/East Sussex, Herefordshire (Forest of Dean), Devon and here in Dorset although some populations may not be pure-bred as some farmers cross-breed wild boar with domestic sows resulting in hybrids which retain the appearance of true wild boar.


Status in Dorset:

Now established in the west of the county the wild boars in Dorset originate from escapes from a now defunct wild boar farm near Bridport and have been supplemented by subsequent escapes from farms still operating in the county.