Dyllan Deer Control Group

 

 

 

Roe Deer

 

Aim

 

The aim of this guide is to provide information on aspects of the ecology and behaviour of roe deer to aid in the management of this species.

Roe deer are a truly native species.

 

Social structure

 

Roe are normally seen in loose family groups or as single animals. Bucks are mostly solitary whereas does will be accompanied by kids most of the year.
May form small groups over winter and early spring.

Body condition changes

As selective browsers, body condition will be
particularly affected by seasonal growth patterns
and availability of preferred food types. (e.g. hot
summers may suppress herb growth resulting in
lactating females being unable to maintain condition).

Patterns of activity

Habitat and range

Woodlands or farmland providing permanent cover
are preferred but roe are increasingly found on open
moorland and in urban /suburban areas. Females
occupy small (< 0.5 km2) distinct areas which may
overlap.

 

Feeding

 

Primarily browsers, roe are selective and thrive best
in woodland habitats offering diversity in food types
including herbs, brambles, ivy, heather, bilberry and
coniferous tree shoots.

Doe in winter coat: grey, pale brown
or (occasionally) black with white‘gorget’ patches on the throat.
Distinct white patches on muzzleand chin.

females
can be
distinguished from males bythe presenceof an anal
tush


Does
BreedingDelayed implantation: After fertilisation the
embryo travels to the uterus but remains unattachedand develops only very slowly for 5 months (thisstage is known as delayed implantation or embryonicdiapause). It is not until late December or earlyJanuary that the embryo is implanted in the uterinewall and rapid foetal development begins. Roe deerare the only species of deer to exhibit this trait.
Corpora lutea: During the delayed implantationstage, a corpus luteum is left behind in the ovaries,
one for each egg shed. This is a few millimetres indiameter and provides the embryo with nutrientsto maintain the pregnancy. The corpora lutea in a
female where the eggs have failed to be fertilisedremain active for a period of at least 5 months (thesame length of time as delayed implantation).
One to two kids: generally kids born in the last
week of May and first week of June, however, early/
late births not uncommon. Triplets unusual.
Productivity: Does are generally sexually mature by14 months (the same age as bucks). Pregnancy rate
in adult does can approach 100%.
Weaning of kids: After 4 months. Kids may
continue to suckle beyond this period but are notdependent on milk.
Behaviour: Does chase out previous year’s kid(s) a
couple of weeks prior to giving birth.
During the first two months, longer than for fallow orred offspring, kids lie inert and hidden some distancefrom the feeding mother, relying on concealment and
camouflage.
Vocalisation: Both sexes may bark as an alarm callthroughout the year. Does communicate to kids using‘pheeps’ and squeaks and make a high-pitched pipingcall to advertise their readiness to mate.
Shoulder height: 63-69 cm.
buck in summer coat: reddish-brown.
Bucks have short (<30 cm) antlerswith 3 points or tines on each


©DCS 2008

ecology_roe.indd 1


24/04/2008 15:02:16


©DCS 2008
* See BPG Woodland Damage: Recognition of Cause
Daily movements
Roe are generally crepuscular i.e. they feed mostly
at dawn and dusk and, as a result,
in concealing habitat the
possibility of encountering
significantly increases at
first and last light when they
tend to be most active. Long
periods may be spent ‘lying
up’ between feeding bouts.
Seasonal movements
Apr to Jun: Both sexes make use of spring flushes
of vegetation for feeding. Bucks are active setting-up
and defending territories. Youngsters are dispersing
from natal area. This can be a productive time for
killing bucks.
Jul/Aug: Bucks are rutting and more likely to
respond to use of a call but are often difficult to see
due to concealing ground cover.
Sept/Oct: Feeding activity often increases.
However, roe are still difficult to see due to
concealing cover.
Nov-Mar: Feeding activity generally decreases
due to a reduced metabolic rate. Deer may refrain
from feeding for longer periods than normal but if
disturbed then food will be required to replenish
expended energy.
Jan-Mar: Often the most productive months for
culling does. During the non-territorial period mixed-
sex groups or ‘bevvies’ (up to 30 individuals) can be
found sharing a limited food resource.
Response to weather
Roe are particularly sensitive to cold winds and the
wet, often seeking shelter from heavy rain. On hot
days roe are less active. However, after heavy rain or
during periods of hard frost they tend to move out
in the open into the sun to dry or to feed. This can
increase the possibility of encountering deer during
the day. After heavy snowfall deer often lie up for a
day or two but may move out of conifer woodlands
during a thaw to avoid dripping trees.
Response to humans
When frequently disturbed, roe may become
increasingly nocturnal, making more use of open
spaces during the hours of darkness.
Damage
Jan-Apr: The majority of browsing damage
occurs.* Damage to winter cereal and root crops
may occur.
Feb-Aug: Fraying damage by bucks occurs at
territory margins as bucks compete.
Late Sept-Oct. Unprotected broadleaved trees
can suffer heavy browsing.
‡Ensure you are familiar with the annual cycle of both malesand females to ensure that management activities do notcompromise animal welfare. For example be particularly
aware of times of the year when: •Females may have calves
at foot •Offspring may be dependent •Non-target animalsmay be in poor condition and be affected by disturbance.
Kids
Social Dependency
During the winter and early spring, kids learn fromtheir mother’s feeding preferences, habitat use and
defence strategies. Yearling kids become totally
independent after they are chased out of theirmother’s home range.
Bucks
Antler development
Nov – Dec: Bucks cast antlers.
Dec – Jul: Antlers in velvet.
Jul: Velvet generally shed by late July. Well-
conditioned, mature bucks may become clean asearly as Feb.
Poor-condition yearling bucks may not fully develop
antlers during first 18 months. In cases the pediclemay be visible and velvet-covered throughout.
Mating
End Mar: Mature bucks begin to become territorial,
maintaining exclusive territories around one or moredoes by fraying, scraping and scenting activity at theboundary of territories. Fights between bucks result
in the winner taking over the loser’s territory or
associated doe(s).
Mid July – mid Aug: Main rutting period.
Oct: A resurgence of rutting behaviour or a ‘false rut’
may occur but involves only a proportion of the adultpopulation.
Vocalisation: As well as barking as an alarm call,
bucks may vocalise while courting.
Shoulder height: 66-72 cm.
(left) Roe deer are extremely adaptable andincreasingly found in urban/sub-urban areas wherethey may utilise small areas of shelter (e.g. hedgerows,
gardens, shelter-belts and copses). (right) Kids are
spotted at birth but will lose these in their first year.
©DCS 2008
* See BPG Woodland Damage: Recognition of Cause
Daily movements
Roe are generally crepuscular i.e. they feed mostly
at dawn and dusk and, as a result,
in concealing habitat the
possibility of encountering
significantly increases at
first and last light when they
tend to be most active. Long
periods may be spent ‘lying
up’ between feeding bouts.
Seasonal movements
Apr to Jun: Both sexes make use of spring flushes
of vegetation for feeding. Bucks are active setting-up
and defending territories. Youngsters are dispersing
from natal area. This can be a productive time for
killing bucks.
Jul/Aug: Bucks are rutting and more likely to
respond to use of a call but are often difficult to see
due to concealing ground cover.
Sept/Oct: Feeding activity often increases.
However, roe are still difficult to see due to
concealing cover.
Nov-Mar: Feeding activity generally decreases
due to a reduced metabolic rate. Deer may refrain
from feeding for longer periods than normal but if
disturbed then food will be required to replenish
expended energy.
Jan-Mar: Often the most productive months for
culling does. During the non-territorial period mixed-
sex groups or ‘bevvies’ (up to 30 individuals) can be
found sharing a limited food resource.
Response to weather
Roe are particularly sensitive to cold winds and the
wet, often seeking shelter from heavy rain. On hot
days roe are less active. However, after heavy rain or
during periods of hard frost they tend to move out
in the open into the sun to dry or to feed. This can
increase the possibility of encountering deer during
the day. After heavy snowfall deer often lie up for a
day or two but may move out of conifer woodlands
during a thaw to avoid dripping trees.
Response to humans
When frequently disturbed, roe may become
increasingly nocturnal, making more use of open
spaces during the hours of darkness.
Damage
Jan-Apr: The majority of browsing damage
occurs.* Damage to winter cereal and root crops
may occur.
Feb-Aug: Fraying damage by bucks occurs at
territory margins as bucks compete.
Late Sept-Oct. Unprotected broadleaved trees
can suffer heavy browsing.
‡Ensure you are familiar with the annual cycle of both malesand females to ensure that management activities do notcompromise animal welfare. For example be particularly
aware of times of the year when: •Females may have calves
at foot •Offspring may be dependent •Non-target animalsmay be in poor condition and be affected by disturbance.
Kids
Social Dependency
During the winter and early spring, kids learn fromtheir mother’s feeding preferences, habitat use and
defence strategies. Yearling kids become totally
independent after they are chased out of theirmother’s home range.
Bucks
Antler development
Nov – Dec: Bucks cast antlers.
Dec – Jul: Antlers in velvet.
Jul: Velvet generally shed by late July. Well-
conditioned, mature bucks may become clean asearly as Feb.
Poor-condition yearling bucks may not fully develop
antlers during first 18 months. In cases the pediclemay be visible and velvet-covered throughout.
Mating
End Mar: Mature bucks begin to become territorial,
maintaining exclusive territories around one or moredoes by fraying, scraping and scenting activity at theboundary of territories. Fights between bucks result
in the winner taking over the loser’s territory or
associated doe(s).
Mid July – mid Aug: Main rutting period.
Oct: A resurgence of rutting behaviour or a ‘false rut’
may occur but involves only a proportion of the adultpopulation.
Vocalisation: As well as barking as an alarm call,
bucks may vocalise while courting.
Shoulder height: 66-72 cm.
(left) Roe deer are extremely adaptable andincreasingly found in urban/sub-urban areas wherethey may utilise small areas of shelter (e.g. hedgerows,
gardens, shelter-belts and copses). (right) Kids are
spotted at birth but will lose these in their first year.
ecology_roe.indd 2

 


 

 

 

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