A new study, whose stated aim is to gauge the fortunes of Britain’s wild mammals, has said that deer numbers are on the increase – but rabbit, hare and fox have fallen.
Published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, the research involved monitoring 1,000 square miles selected randomly for a period of 18 years.
Muntjac populations have grown by 180 per cent over the period the research was conducted – with fallow growing by 89 per cent, red deer by 71 per cent and roe by 60 per cent in the same time frame.
But rabbit numbers dropped by 48 per cent, mountain hares by 43 per cent and fox by 20 per cent.
The research suggests that fox populations dropped mostly between 1995 and 2004 – before the Hunting Act was implemented – after which they have been relatively stable. Researchers concluded there was “no evidence fox numbers have increased since the ban”.
Sika and Chinese water deer were observed in the survey, but not in great enough numbers to draw a meaningful conclusion.