Most visitors to the woods will know that muntjac deer are present and may have seen (or more probably heard) them. Wood Wardens have been monitoring the level of deer activity at two year intervals since 2007; we now have the results of the February 2021 survey.
Reeves Muntjacs are not native to Britain. They were introduced by the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Park in the late nineteenth century and subsequently by Whipsnade Zoo and are now present across Hertfordshire. They can be a serious pest, browsing buds and shoots on new plant growth and damaging the woodland habitat - not to mention the gardens of those living nearby!
Since 2007 Wood Wardens have been monitoring the level of deer activity in the woods, with a view to understanding their likely effect on the conservation and management of the wood. Monitoring takes place every two years and after showing a rapid increase in activity from 2007 to 2009 this has since fallen back somewhat. In 2013 Linda Smith, Charlotte Fox and Ken Smith described the issue, the method of monitoring, and early results in a short paper which was published by the Hertfordshire Natural History Society in Hertfordshire Naturalist. With the kind permission of Ken Smith and the HNHS you can see the full paper by clicking here.
Results of this year's monitoring are very similar to those from 2019; in both years only 10% of the sprigs of ivy showed signs of muntjac browsing seven days after being put in place, most of that activity being near Muddy Bottom. This is well down on the early years of monitoring - in 2009 every single sprig had been browsed.