Deer | Deer
© Susanne Nilsson

Four species of deer are regularly seen in Dorset and in the New Forest. These are Roe, Red, Sitka, and Fallow.

Muntjac deer are occasionally to be seen particularly to the east of the New Forest. Roe is the only native species, with the rest introduced at various times in history.


Most deer will be seen in the New Forest or other in woodland area.

Of the woodland dwellers, Red deer are most often seen in the deciduous areas of New Forest. Fallow deer, with their typical spotted coats, are usually to be found in mixed woodland with open clearings. Roe deer, native to Britain, are found throughout the area and where there is woodland next to open fields.

Heathland habitat

Sika deer were first introduced on to Brownsea Island in the late 1800s. They soon waded or swam across to the mainland at low tide and established a breeding herd on the salt marsh and woodland around the edge of Poole Harbour. They are especially easy to observe at the Arne RSPB reserve to the south of Poole Harbour where they have become accustomed to people. Here Sika deer are useful in conservation grazing, where the grazing regime aims to conserve the heathland habitat, home to many rare species.

The “rut”

All four species have their mating period “the rut” in the autumn. The stags have fully grown antlers and are busy seeing off rival males and keeping their harems of hinds together. The males of all four deer species go in for a lot of vocalisation at this time with roars, barks and rumblings. This is the time to be especially careful if you are anywhere near the deer, as the stags are more aggressive than usual.

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