Advice, licensing and legislation relating to deer.
Under the Deer Act 1991 (as amended), all wild deer with the exception of Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) are protected by a close season with a common start date of 1 April for female deer. The Regulatory Reform (Deer) (England and Wales) Order 2007 amended the original Act improved deer welfare in a number of ways and introduced new licensing provisions. Further details of this amendment are provided in the section on Deer consultation and Regulatory Reform Order below.
Section 7 Deer Act 1991 provides a so-called "farmers defence" whereby authorised persons may, in certain circumstances shoot deer if they are causing damage in the close season (see the Act for details of the types of situations covered). The amendments to the Deer Act to allow individuals to apply for licences for shooting deer during the close season to prevent the deterioration of natural heritage or to preserve public health and safety. To apply see Licences and how to apply below.
Under Section 3 Deer Act 1991 it is an offence to kill or take deer at night. The 2007 amendments allow individuals to apply for licences for shooting deer at night where it is not possible to effectively control deer by other means. To apply for a licence see Licences and how to apply below.
|Deer: problems in urban and suburban areas - TIN044||Primarily advice on prevention of damage caused by roe, fallow and muntjac to gardens.||Householders|
|Recommendations for fallow, roe,and muntjac fencing: new proposals for temporary and reusable fencing - FCPN009 (Forestry Commisson)||Details of specifications and materials for more cost-effective fencing for fallow, roe and muntjac.||Land managers, farmers, foresters|
|Managing deer in the countryside - FCPN0006 (Forestry Commission)||Advice for non-specialists on finding out if deer are present, which species, if damage has been caused, solutions and where to go for more advice.||Land managers, farmers, foresters|
|Impact of deer on woodland biodiversity - FCIN036 (Forestry Commission)||Guidance on impacts of deer on vegetation and recommendations for establishing effective deer management and tree protection measures.||Land managers, farmers, foresters|
|Deer Initiative Best Practice Guides (The Deer Initiative)||A comprehensive range of guides on all aspects or wild deer management.||Land managers, farmers, foresters|
Specific licensing guidance is included below in 'Licences and how to apply' next to the relevant application form.
The best long-term solution to reduce the damage caused by deer is to achieve an adequate cull each year and so reduce the local deer population. This is best achieved through a wider, co-ordinated cull undertaken by a local Deer Management Group (DMG) rather than on an ad-hoc basis by individuals.
Further details on DMGs can be found in the Deer Initiative's Best Practice Guide on Deer Management Groups. However, the legislation makes provisions for actions that can be taken in exceptional circumstances where problems cannot readily be resolved through normal deer management.
See our licences page for summary information on: Who needs a licence, what types there are and how long they take to obtain. Licences and advice are provided free of charge (some exceptions).
|Application form/example case||Guidance||Report/renewal|
|Deer - for science, education and for relocation: WML-A32: (173kb) (e.g. trapping and radio-collaring deer for behavioural study)
Template for References: (74kb)
|Guidance on references for applicants: (47kb)||Report: (105kb)|
|Deer - for shooting deer during the close season or at night for certain, specified purposes: WML-A16: (264kb) (e.g. health and safety issue)||Report provided with licence|
Please see our main enforcement and inspection page for more information.
Please contact Customer Services Wildlife Licensing for further information and guidance.
An action plan The sustainable management of wild deer populations in England: (359kb) was published following the Defra and Forestry Commission public consultation in 2004.
In 2006 Defra held a public consultation on proposed changes to the Deer Act (1991) to improve deer management and welfare. The proposals from the consultation formed the basis of the Regulatory Reform (Deer) (England and Wales) Order 2007 . This increased the range of tools available to deer managers and will enhance deer welfare. The Order amended the Deer Act as follows:
There are an estimated 30,000 - 50,000 vehicle collisions involving deer annually in the UK. These result in 10-20 human fatalities. The National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project is collecting records of road traffic accidents involving deer.