Wikinews interviews British scientist Dr Paul Dolman about proposal to cull deer population
Friday, March 8, 2013
Wednesday, a team of researchers at the United Kingdom published a study of the increasing population in the United Kingdom, in the . They proposed to cull about half each year out of the estimated 1.5 million deer population., ,
Wikinews interviewed senior lecturer in ecology Dr. Paul Dolman, the lead author of the study, about the problems being faced from the increase in deer population.
WN What prompted your research into the effect of the deer population on other wildlife?
- Dr. Paul Dolman: As a conservation ecologist I have a long standing interest in woodland management.
WN What sort of problems are arising from the continuing increase in the deer population?
- Dr. Paul Dolman: In North America and parts of Europe including the UK, increasing deer populations are changing the structure of forest habitats. This has knock-on effects on plant communities, bird and small mammal populations, with a reduction in the numbers of woodland birds that need a complex shrub layer. In Britain, declines in a number of woodland bird species have been linked to increases in deer numbers. Other problems include damage to agricultural crops, and increased numbers of deer-related road traffic accidents.
WN Which species of deer had the most severe impact on other animals and wildlife?
- Dr. Paul Dolman: In the UK there are six deer species, of which two are native ( and ) and four are introduced ( , , and ). There has not yet been sufficient detailed work to disentangle their effects, but it appears that fallow deer and muntjac have particularly strong effects on woodlands and other biodiversity.
WN Is there an absence in the number of natural predators of the deer, which would otherwise control population?
- Dr. Paul Dolman: Increases in deer populations are at least partly related to the historic removal of large predators (including species such as , and ), as well as the abundance of nutritious cropland. However in densely settled farmed landscapes such as much of lowland England reintroduction of predators is problematic and control by culling is therefore an important aspect of deer management.
- Anna-Marie Lever. "Deer: 50% cull 'necessary to protect countryside'" — , March 6, 2013