Roe deer on the move

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One of our four deer species, the roe, a native of woods and open countryside, is doing rather well.

Only a few decades ago, you would be most unlikely to come across one in Yorkshire or Derbyshire.

Gradually, over the years, they have made a comeback and long ago penetrated into the heartlands of Leeds and Bradford, for example.

Around Doncaster and Barnsley, they are established in countryside areas and on post-industrial sites such as former coal-mining areas.

In Sheffield and North Derbyshire, it is only relatively recently that the roe deer has arrived on a regular basis – and it is good to see a long-lost native returning.

However, I do recall a debate with highways planners in Barnsley when the new fast roads were being put through the Dearne Valley. My argument was that we needed to design the new highways with the possibility of a large mammal crossing the roads on a regular basis.

The engineers’ argument was that there were no deer, so why bother.

Actually, they were wrong because, even then, the deer had already arrived. In the end, the roadside plantations went in and no provision was made to take the deer under, around, or over the new roads.

Therefore, we can expect road traffic accidents to increase in the coming years as deer numbers rocket. Believe me, if you are in your car and hit a roe deer at 60 miles an hour, then it will do you and the deer a lot of damage.

This brings me to the point of the story as this last week I was up in North Yorkshire visiting a woodland site.

The gamekeeper I was speaking with told me that the numbers of roe deer had escalated in the Farndale area, with far more seen than previously.

On the journey up, travelling on the A64 close to Malton, I had already seen one dead roe doe on the central carriageway.

On the way back, I stopped to examine a carcass in the middle of the highway, only to find another animal dead on the roadside as I stepped from my car.

So with just a cursory inspection I had found three dead adult roe does.

I wonder how many others were hidden in the tall vegetation and across the surrounding countryside.

This is a fast stretch of road and I assume just happens to be a favoured deer crossing point, and in effect a ‘killing fields’ for the roes. It is good to see these beautiful animals once again active in both town and country, but it is a shame that the toll is so great.

Have you witnessed any deer accidents or road kills?

n Sightings: Two ravens chasing a carrion crow over Brincliffe Edge is a sign of another bird on the up and up. Thrybergh Country Park has turned up two black-necked grebes, a rare species but one which does occasionally breed with us. Cuckoos are around in good numbers to the west of Sheffield including a bird near the Grouse Inn at Froggatt that apparently goes ‘cuckoo-oo’. There are plenty of common whitethroats, chiffchaffs and blackcaps singing across the region. A fascinating record was of three woodcocks at Cutthroat Bridge. Two males were fighting on the ground for five minutes with a larger female in attendance, presumably waiting to see who came out on top!