The Deer Initiative
South West Region Spring Newsletter
Once again the Spring period has been quite busy with the various projects
and activities keeping us all active, hopefully you will have time to read this
summary of the DI activities in your Region and Nationally.
The Dartmoor project is moving along well with the landowners in the 1st
Deer Management Unit (the Bovey and Wray Valleys) about to be contacted
once this has been done we will arrange a date for an awareness/impact day
which will give us a baseline of the deer management in the area.
The Dartmoor National Park are organising as part of the overall Restoring
Ancient Woodlands Project an ancient woodland awareness day (South
Dartmoor) provisionally set for Thursday 21 June. The aim is to have a visit
to working woodland, look at a woodland creation site, and (over lunch) give
landowners the opportunity to talk to representatives of the RAW project,
DNPA, NE, FC, DI etc. If you would like more details of this event please
contact Richard Knot on 01626832093
The Exmoor project area is also moving forward and the Exmoor National
Park has now appointed a project officer to work alongside Graham McVittie.
Mean while the Quantock Hills AONB have held a meeting with local
landowner’s and groups to discuss the feasibility of an increased cull, it was
the general opinion that the deer levels were too high and that they would
need a more collaborative approach to their management this has led to a
further meeting of a working group to discuss the overall deer management
The RSPB Arne Deer Management Project is already half way through a 5
year plan to improve the condition status of both the reserve and the
welfare of the deer. To maintain this progress they are now in partnership
with Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Deer Initiative to
achieve a reduction in the density of the sika which are having a huge impact
on the habitat of the reserve. The partnership will pull together all aspects
of the work already in progress and improve the infrastructure of the deer
management and habitat monitoring.
Andrew Paterson has supplied this update on our progress with bTB.
Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in Wild Deer – an overview
This article summarises a presentation made at the Deer Initiative
Conference at the end of March 2007; it covers some background
information on bTB in wild deer and why Defra is interested in the disease in
deer. It also covers some of the research that has been commissioned
recently and in particular the current research in which the Deer Initiative,
Forestry Commissions and private stalkers are involved.
Background information on tuberculosis
•The disease is caused by a Mycobacterium.
•It is not one ‘disease’ – there are several important types:
•M. bovis (bovine TB - bTB)
•M. tuberculosis (human TB)
•M. avium (bird TB)
•Also note M. avium ssp paratuberculosis (Johnes’ disease in cattle)
•It is a slow moving disease, infected animals can become infectious and
survive for considerable periods of time (and breed).
•The disease affects mainly the respiratory system and the gut.
•Infection is normally via the mouth – either breathed in or eaten
•The infectious dose need to cause disease through eating is very high –
possibly 1000s of times more than the respiratory dose
Why are Defra interested in bovine TB ….. ?
•bTB is zoonotic (can infect humans as well as cattle)
•30 cases per year c.f. 6500 cases of M. tuberculosis
•M. bovis infecting cattle is the main driver for pasteurisation of milk
•There is a legal obligations to control it under UK and EU law
•There is a government strategic framework on bTB with the aim of
preventing spread, and keeping clean areas clean
Why are Defra interested in deer and bTB …..?
•There is a lot of anecdote, and much of the evidence needed is either
missing or out of date. The obvious gaps in the evidence base are:
•Deer species population abundance.
•Deer species population distribution.
•M. bovis prevalence in deer.
•The role of deer behaviour in the epidemiology.
•The role of management in the epidemiology.
•Two recent studies have indicated that deer have the potential to act as a
source for cattle under specific circumstances.
Background information on bTB in deer
•bTB has been diagnosed in five of the six species of wild deer present in
•It has not been diagnosed in Chinese Water deer (Hydropotes inermis).
•bTB in deer is a notifiable disease in the UK
•Any SUSPICION of disease must be notified to your DVM
•Control of bTB in deer is not harmonised across the EU i.e. there are no
Clinical picture of TB in deer i.e. what it looks like externally:
The signs are not specific i.e. many other ill-thrift diseases may look the
same e.g. worms, starvation etc.
•It is a sub-acute or chronic disease (slow onset).
•Clinical signs may develop within 6 months or less of infection, or may
take several years.
•There may be a progressive loss of condition and ill-thrift.
•However, there may be sudden deterioration or sudden death.
•May be lymph node swelling visible in advanced cases, and some of
these may form abscesses that rupture and discharge.
Pathology of TB in deer i.e. the internal picture
The only way of reliably diagnosing bTB is through post-mortem and
•Forms abscesses rather than granulomas c.f. cattle
•Usually thin walled abscesses with fibrotic capsules and little
•White, creamy pus
•Usually lungs, pleura, lymph nodes and diaphragm
•Lymph nodes affected are head, thorax and mesenteric (gut) chain
•May be discharging sinuses from lymph nodes
•If easily visible lesions are present this indicates advanced infection
that has been present for some time.
•PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS COMMON TO HAVE INFECTION
WITH NO VISIBLE LESIONS.
•When cultured, the bacteria can be confused with other
Mycobacterial diseases and it is important to have the cultures
carried out by experienced staff, such as those of the Veterinary
Laboratories Agency (VLA):
•Avian TB (M. avium)
•Jöhné’s disease (M. avium ssp paratuberculosis)
•Environmental mycobacteria M. mictrotedes etc.
Wild boar and deer bTB
Wild boar are susceptible to bTB and where present may act as useful
indicators (sentinels) that infection are present in an area, due to their
omnivorous feeding habits and tendency to scavenge carcases and gralloch.
bTB has been identified in wild boar in Europe.
Current Research and the Evidence Base
Defra funded research work that has been undertaken (or will be
undertaken shortly) recently includes:
•Field surveys for bTB in deer in the South-West Peninsula and
•Veterinary risk assessments, including computerised disease
•Deer population and distribution and abundance surveys
The South-West Peninsula and Cotswold Deer TB Surveys
The objective of the survey is to reliably determine if the prevalence of
bTB in wild deer is 5% or greater, with a level of certainty of 95%.
There was an initial pilot survey in the first quarter of 2006, which was then
followed up with a full-scale survey that started in December 2007.
Details of the 2006 pilot survey
•Objective - to determine if partnership working of this type worked
for disease surveys purposes and to iron out any problems identified.
•The pilot was organised at short notice – co-operation and
partnership working with the Deer Initiative and the Forestry
Commission was essential to its success.
•It demonstrated that non-scientists could gather good quality
samples in the field; and ironed out practical problems to ensure that
the sampling fitted in with normal practice
•The pilot was carried out only on Forestry Commission land in the
South-West peninsula. It gathered 126 samples, of which 6 were
suspicious, but none of these turned out to be truly infected, all were
due to other Mycobacteria.
•It is important to note that NO INFERENCES ARE POSSIBLE FROM
THIS PILOT – the sample size was too small, and its purpose was only
to iron out operational problems and prove the principle.
Issues identified in the pilot
•Sample quality is everything – poor quality samples e.g. contaminated
with gut contents, make it difficult to isolate the organism and
resulting infected deer being identified as free of disease, which is in
•It is important to consider how we were sure that the samples
submitted but the Forestry Commission staff were good samples:
•VLA (the world leading laboratory on bTB) confirmed that the
samples were generally of very good quality and free from
•Other Mycobacteria were isolated from the samples, showing that
that were capable of disclosing M. bovis if to was present.
The 2006 / 2007 Field Survey
The main survey started just before Christmas 2006, and expanded the pilot
to include three private Cotswold estates. The aim is to gather 700 samples
at 10 sites to achieve a 95:5 level of significance. Approximately 300
samples have been gathered so far, with very few confirmed positives.
However, it is important to note that it takes at least six weeks to culture a
sample to confirm that it is positive, but up to three months to confirm that
it is negative.
Why are we aiming for a 95:5 level of significance?
This is the level of confidence required for the disease models i.e. fit for
purpose. It requires approximately 60 samples - a manageable and
economically feasible sample size that fits in with the normal management
What if no M. bovis are found?
1. If we find other Mycobacteria, this indicates that the sampling
process is OK, and that the disease is at a level of less than 5%. It is
not possible to draw the conclusion that there is no M. bovis infection.
2. If we don’t find any other Mycobacteria, this would indicate that
there may be problems and a quality assurance audit would need to be
What do the stalkers have to do?
1. Samples are taken at the time of carcase inspection / gralloching.
2. A pre-defined list of lymph nodes are taken and placed in sample pots,
together with lesioned tissue if it is visible.
3. The carcase is uniquely identified and the laboratory forms
4. The samples are placed in special postage paid pathological sample
containers and sent to VLA.
5. The sampling process requires an additional 15-20 minutes more than
the standard carcase inspection process.
Why does it seem to be working?
This approach seems to be working well, and we think the reasons for this
1. Interested people.
2. Collection fits in with normal working practice.
3. Rewarded collection - we pay for quality samples.
4. Hunters know what the normal looks like.
5. It is not over ambitious, and the answer is fit for purpose
6. Health and safety issues are no different from normal carcase
Important features of the survey
The important features of this survey are:
1. Partnership working with interested groups such as the FC and the DI.
2. The role of the DI in organising, co-ordinating and communicating
3. This is one of the few times that non-scientists have been used to
collect clinical samples in this way in disease studies (although e.g.
BTO and RSPB have a long history of gathering non-clinical data in this
4. The field training provided by the DI.
5. Rewarded sample collection helps to ensure good quality samples are
6. Compatible health and safety issues.
What’s to follow …………?
The following will be talking place between now and the end of the year:
•The field survey will continue until sufficient samples are collected –
probably November / December 2007.
•A new, blood sample based, laboratory test (the STAT-PAK ELISA) is
being validated using the samples submitted, together with additional
blood samples gathered.
Reporting of results and conclusions.
•Final results are likely to be issued in February 2008 depending on
how long the final cultures require.
•These results will be incorporated into disease models and risk
Area 106, DEFRA,
1A Page Street,
SW1P 4PQ, UK
I have attended as many DMG meetings as I could (your dates often clash!)
offering support where it is required. The Monksilver and Stogumber group
have had some success with some collaborative culls during the doe/hind
season with the members working well together to achieve the proposed cull
level. Alison Kent has stood down from the role of group secretary after 10
years in post. The group and I would like to thank her for all her work over
that time, Richard Eales has taken over the position. As I mentioned in the
winter newsletter a “Larder Day” was planned for early March this was
mainly by the request of Mike Wellum and his group members, it was very
well supported and received by them and other south Devon DMG members.
Many thanks go to Powderham Estate and especially to Dick Durrant for
allowing me to use his larder and of course for supplying the carcase!
There was an “Impact Day” held in conjunction with the FC, DI and the
Central Cotswolds DMG for local foresters and landowner’s, impact
recognition and monitoring, highseat placement, the use of open space and
woodland grants were all covered.
At the beginning of May I ran a “Dogs as an Aid to Deer Management”
course with members of 3 Devon management groups and their dogs present.
We covered breed selection, basic training and control, plus during the
afternoon session blood trailing with the course members working their dogs
on a range of trails some over 24 hours old. Many thanks go to John and
Jenny Stowers for hosting a very good day. Staying on the dog theme, I
spent a day with Niels Sondergaard while he was running his training course
for tracking dogs in North Wales for BASC. Niels is a highly respected
tracking dog handler from Denmark where the requirement to follow up
wounded deer is law. Niels has recently published an excellent book in this
country on this subject “Working with dogs for deer” available from BASC
and the BDS. If you would like some support with training or help with any
DMG activity please contact me.
University of York deer researcher visits Clinton Devon Estates
Piran White from the University of York spent a week in April at Clinton
Devon Estates, under a ‘work shadow’ arrangement, as part of a research
project on the sustainable management of rural resources, using wild deer as
a case study. He was in Devon at the invitation of John Varley, Estates
Director of Clinton Devon Estates, and spent his time with Kevin Brosnan
(Head Keeper), Tom Garner (Estate Ranger) and John Wilding (General
Manager Forests and Timber). During the week, he got some experience of
roe deer stalking, and visited parts of the Heanton Estate in North Devon
and the Clinton and Beer Estates in South Devon to discover more about
deer in the area at first-hand. He learned about the impacts that deer are
having on some of the woodlands in the area, and also about some of the
practical problems of managing deer in the area, especially roe deer on the
urban fringe in south Devon and red deer which move across different
properties in north Devon. He also had the opportunity to discuss deer
management with Norman Healy (Deer Liaison Officer for the Deer
Initiative in the South West Region), and to learn more about the
opportunities and challenges of venison marketing from Lesley and Richard
Goodman (Gara Barton).
The project that Piran is working on is being conducted as part of the UK
Research Councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme, which is
funded jointly by the Research Councils, Defra and SEERAD. The Forestry
Commission is also supporting the project. The project team is made up of
researchers from the Macaulay Institute, Forest Research and the
Universities of Aberdeen, York, Edinburgh, Kent and St Andrews. The aim
of the project is to better understand the full range of social, economic and
ecological values (positive or negative) that deer contribute to the rural
economy. By engaging actively at a national and local level with organisations
and individuals with an interest in deer, the project aims to understand the
causes behind some of the conflicts that exist in deer management and the
extent to which these conflicts may be reduced by collaboration among
different stakeholders. Current research activities include an analysis of
stakeholder interests at the national scale, a venison processors’ survey and
detailed investigations into collaboration and deer management in West
Sutherland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the Arne Peninsular and the
Marches. These will be followed up with more specific investigations of the
motivations and preferences for deer management among stakeholders in
different parts of the country, including the south-west region.
The team publishes a regular newsletter, which gives more details of the
research activities. A copy of the first newsletter can be downloaded from
the Publications section of the project web site
(http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/RELU, and a second newsletter will be published
shortly. Contact details for the project team are also provided on the web
Directors/national update May 2007
The Royal Society of Wildlife Trust has now formally joined the Deer
Initiative Partnership and will be represented by Ray Tabor. Discussions are
underway with MOD Defence Estates about future cooperation and the
Chairman is attending the Defence Deer Management symposium in June.
Mike Seville has joined the Partnership and Board of Trustees representing
the CLA. Andrew Wilson has joined the Board of Trustees as the BDS
Trustee, replacing John Thomas who will remain a Trustee to provide vital
accounting and charity law expertise. David Kenyon has joined the
Partnership replacing Dorothy Ireland representing the BDS. Ian Summerell
has joined the Partnership replacing the late Hugh Thomas representing the
UCSW. Alistair Nash will join the Partnership replacing John Tucker as the
Woodland Trust Representative.
The conference was extremely well received. Over 150 delegates attended
each day and feedback has been extremely positive with many calling for the
event to be repeated on a more regular basis. The proceedings will be
available shortly both on the web-site and in hard copy courtesy of Natural
We had originally planned to bring all the Partners together on 12 June 2007
to discuss the long term requirement for sustainable deer management in
England and Wales. We have decided to postpone this meeting until the
autumn but The Trustees will be meeting on that date to review the long
term vision for the Partnership with the aim of producing a draft for the
Deer Vehicle Collisions Project
DVC data collection
It has been agreed with HA that formal data collection on their
behalf would cease as at 31 December 2006. Jochen Langbein will
continue to chase outstanding data sources up until 30 June 2007 and
the data would then be handed over to the HA. All the data currently
held by the DI for the trunk road network will be transferred to the
HA’s new Environmental Information System by 30 Sep 2007.
We have agreed with HA that:
There is a need to produce a proposal for tackling priority sites.
A summary of major mitigation activity currently taking place
should be produced.
Current areas of activity e.g. Ashridge should be used to
produce case studies identifying best practice, novel methods
Deer Collision Website
We have agreed that the web site will remain active for the next 6
months at least.
We have agreed that the top priority was to identify ways of
influencing driver behaviour. It was agreed to set up a Driver
Awareness Working Group within the Partnership, but inviting
other interested organisations to join.
It was agreed that ‘Advice to drivers’ should be produced (and
up-dated for the web site) and to inform the work of the
Ecopillars – It seems unlikely that ecopillars will provide
an effective deterrent. There are a number of issues:
o Errant vehicles have already damaged/destroyed 10%
of the deployed pillars.
o There are severe reservations about the technical
specifications of the early pillars. The Type IV pillar
is currently being examined by Somerset County
Council technicians to confirm that it meets the
technical specifications claimed by the manufacturer.
o The static trials show no evidence to date of
effectiveness, habituation appears to occur in hours
or at most days with fallow and red deer.
o There may still be scope for using the pillars where
roe deer are the principle issue and we will try to set
up a static trial to assess effectiveness with this
Wegu deterrents – The Wegu deterrents appear to offer
more chance of success, but are likely to be of limited
usefulness on the trunk road network (due to traffic
density) and cannot be used close to human habitation (due
to noise pollution). We have agreed that DI Ltd will continue
to monitor Jochen Langbein’s work on these deterrents.
Best Practice was introduced to the wider public at the conference where
four drafts were available for inspection. The first full guides will be made
available on the DI website as soon as the core working group has given final
approval to them and the website has been modified to facilitate viewing and
download. Work on the main body of the guides will continue and guides will
be released in small batches as available.
We await the Defra response to the Regulatory Reform Committee’s
comments on the Deer RRO. We believe they will accept the
recommendations and we will then have to await outcome of the
Parliamentary and Welsh Assembly Government consideration of the Deer
RRO. We are still hopeful the RRO will become law in both England and
Wales on 1 October 2007. The text of the report is available on the
Committee’s website: (www.parliament.uk/regrefcom)
Non-Native species consultation
The three GB Administrations are carrying out a public consultation on the
draft GB Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy. Invasive non-
native species are one of the most important causes of biodiversity loss
worldwide. They also have significant detrimental effects on our economic
interests and social well-being. Whilst recognising that only a minority of
non-native species are invasive, the GB Administrations are committed to
tackling the problems caused by those species.
The Non-native Species Framework Strategy is intended to provide a
strategic framework within which the actions of government departments,
their related bodies and key stakeholders can be better co-ordinated. Its
overall aim is to minimise the risks posed, and reduce the negative impacts
caused, by invasive non-native species in Great Britain.
The draft strategy has been produced by a working group consisting of key
stakeholders from industry, Non Governmental Organisations and
government but we cannot hope to have encompassed the full range of views
on such a large and complex subject. They are now, therefore, putting the
draft document out to public consultation.
The consultation document, Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and
response document can be found on the GB Non-native Species Secretariat's
The consultation closes on 23 May 2007.
Meat Hygiene Regulations
The FSA are seeking views and comments on a European Commission
proposal to amend Regulation (EC) 852/2004 and on a draft initial UK
Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).
The key proposal is:
To amend Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs so
that certain food businesses with fewer than ten employees would
be exempt from the requirement for food safety procedures based
on HACCP principles.
Responses are required by 1 August 2007. This is a full 12 week
consultation. However, as this proposal is being progressed on a ’fast track’
basis by the European institutions, stakeholders are encouraged to return
responses at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the information
provided can help formulate policy in a timely and effective manner. We will
endeavour to circulate a draft response in the next 4 weeks to seek support
from our Partners.
Further details can be found at:
Pauline Goring returned from sick leave on 9 May. Carys Landing will
continue to provide administrative support to meetings and conferences for
the next 2 months at least.
Deer Liaison Officer,
South West Region,
PO Box 67,
EX 6 8 WT
Tel: 01626 891364
If you know of others who would like to receive these updates please do pass
it on. If you have received this via a third party please do contact me for
your own direct copy.
If you have received this and do not wish to be included on further mailings
please do let me know.
e to receive these updates please do pass
it on. If you have received this via a third party please do contact me for
your own direct copy.
If you have received this and do not wish to be included on further mailings
please do let me know.