OH deer! These beautiful beasts have been spotted roaming the woods in Preston – but could be causing harm to other wildlife.
The exotic Muntjac deer have been spotted at Nab Wood, close to Brockholes, along with others around Mere Sands in the West Lancashire area.
The deer are believed to have escaped from private collections and, while they are lovely to look at, they can cause damage to woodland. They tend not to eat agricultural crops and saplings in woodland like other deer in the region.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s South Lancashire reserves officer John Haddon said: “Muntjac’s are an ‘introduced’ species and they can do a lot of harm in woodland, eating native plants like bluebells and primulas.”
Muntjac deer were released or escaped after being introduced to Woburn Park, in Bedfordshire, in the early 1900s.
They rapidly spread across England and Wales, but other escapes from private collections have added to numbers.
While most sightings have been in the South and Midlands, muntjac have been spotted in Cheshire, south Merseyside and there is a report of one being seen in a garden in Salford. They are commonly known as barking deer after the noise they make when alarmed.
John said: “They are not easy to spot and could easily be mistaken for dogs.
“They are small compared to roe deer and do not have their distinctive white tail.” Anyone hoping to see muntjacs should keep an eye out in woodland around dawn and dusk when they are most active.