Red Deer are the largest land-mammal in the UK and most commonly populate the Scottish Highlands. You therefore would not expect to find these majestic creatures just two miles from Bristol City Centre. Ashton Court sits on the city outskirts, made up of around 850 acres of woodland and is residence to a large herd of Red and Fallow Deer. Deer have historically been bred for venison stock and hunting, but there are now many estates that manage deer for ecotourism as an ornamental species.
Deer do not have any predators due to top food chain species such as wolves, bears and lynx having been hunted to extinction in the UK many decades ago. For this reason, deer species are over-populated and cause big problems by over-grazing, destroying habitats for other wildlife. Deer are therefore hunted to maintain a balanced population. Of course any time that a native species is hunted, controversy follows suit. It is certainly a very difficult issue to resolve.
There are however, plans in place to reintroduce the native lynx in to the UK and already trial introductions are being held in parts of Northumberland and Scotland. Lynx are the perfect species to be reintroduced as they not only control the numbers of deer, encouraging woodlands to regrow and allowing the ecosystem to recover, but they are also very shy animals. This medium sized felid is a solitary animal; a secretive creature that will hide away in dense forestry areas. Such an elusive mammal will cause no danger to humans and will prey on deer and foxes in deep forests rather than taking sheep which are kept in open meadows in the UK.