T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Deer (Red) Cervus elaphus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Genus: Cervus
Species: C. elaphus
Binomial name: Cervus elaphus
Subspecies: Cervus elaphus scoticus
Common name: Red deer.

Red deer in New Zealand are descended from the British subspecies, Cervus elaphus scoticus which are found throughout the central and western highlands of Scotland, in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, and in parts of England and Ireland.
In the 1860s British settlers in New Zealand formed acclimatisation societies to import and release deer. The first liberation was of three red deer from Thorndon Hall, England at Nelson in 1861. Later three comparatively small herds were established near Reefton, Bainham, and Westport from Windsor and Thorndon, England.
An unknown number were also liberated by North Canterbury Acclimatisation Society. In the North Island, red deer were first liberated in 1863 and rapidly spread in mountainous forested areas. About 1000 Red deer had been liberated into the wild in NewZealand by 1923.
During the early days red deer were protected by law, enabling the numbers to increase; then hunting was slowly opened up, with seasons and tag restrictions. In 1923 this protection was removed for red and fallow deer in some parts of the country. By 1932, game seasons, licences, bag limits and other restrictions were dropped.
They were declared noxious animals in the early 1930s.
Today they are found in forest and high-country habitats in the North Island, South Island, Stewart Island and some offshore islands.
Their browsing leads to the local elimination of native herbs and understorey shrubs and seedlings of larger trees. Males also causes vegetation damage by rubbing the bark off trees with their antlers,
killing sub-canopy trees.
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a risk to the deer farming industry. While TB does occur in wild red deer they are generally thought to be ‘spillover’ hosts i.e. TB is more likely to be found in red deer inhabiting areas where the possums have TB and are at high densities. In the wild, deer to deer transmission of TB is thought to be rare. (Thanks to Pest Detective, NPCA (National Pest Control Agencies)

Red deer males have a shoulder height of >1300 mm and weigh >215 kg with females smaller at >1050 mm shoulder height and weighing >110kg. Their summer coat is typically a reddish brown while their winter coat is usually of a brown or grey-brown with the throat and underside being light grey grading to creamy-white between the hind legs.
The head of red deer long and bony in appearance Their ears are pointed and can be longer than half the length of their head. Red deer tails are short (>15 cm) and match the colour of their upper rump. The antlers are large and wide and are cast annually by males from their second year.
The rut occurs during late March through to April. The gestation period is about 230 days. Birthing occurs during late November and December.

 

Distribution map of Red deer (Red areas)

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/