Deer in the Forest
The Dean became a Royal hunting forest in Norman times. The last record of the monarch actually hunting in the Forest was 1256, but it continued to be an important source of venison for the Royal table for centuries. Since Norman times, the Dean has had principally one species of deer - a herd of fallow deer. A few red deer were dumped in the Forest in 1999, but have since moved to the SW of the Forest in the Wye Valley. Muntjac and roe deer are now also present having moved in from other areas but the fallow continues to be the main species.
There is a good chance of seeing deer throughout the Forest particularly once you move away from the car parks and if you are quiet. Deer are frequently seen on the verges or running across roads where they are a traffic hazard.
Accidents involving deer
Between 40,000 and 75,000 deer are killed in collisions on the roads in the UK every year. These accidents kill car occupants too, as well as injuring hundreds and causing £11 million of damage to vehicles.Accidents involving deer peak in May, October and November and one of the national hotspots is the Forest of Dean.
If you understand a little about deer then you can think about how you can change your driving to avoid them and know what to do if you hit and injure one.
Tips about deer
- Accidents involving deer peak in May, October and November.
- Worst times of day are around sunrise and between sunset and midnight.
- 'Deer' or 'wild animal' signs warn you that deer accidents happen in that area.
- A deer can appear almost instantly - nature makes them hard to see and they don't follow the green cross code!
- Use high beam head-lights when it's dark, but dip them if you see a deer, otherwise it may freeze in your path. Don't dazzle other drivers though.
- If a deer appears suddenly it's safer to continue on your normal track rather than swerve or brake hard to try to avoid it. Sudden manoeuvres can result in a loss of control and increase the risk of hitting a tree or another vehicle.
- If you do hit a deer, try to stop somewhere safe. If you can't then do your best to ensure that your accident isn't hit by other vehicles.
- Report the accident to the police who will contact someone who can help the injured deer.
- Bear in mind that if you miss the deer (or any other animal), but hit something else, it will be very hard to prove that the deer ever existed.
Sheep and Boar
Whilst they are not as fast as deer, remember that in the Forest a similar threat exists from sheep and boar. Do drive with care!.