Managing deer in the Lake District

Deer in the Lake District

Deer contribute to biodiversity and are welcome in the countryside, but in order to care for the landscape in the Lake District, managing their numbers is part of our essential conservation work.

Why do you have to manage deer in the countryside?

The large carnivores that regulated the populations of deer across Britain and Ireland have become extinct, so deer have no natural predators. This means that their populations can quickly increase and they can cause damage to important wild plant communities, woodlands, farm business', crops and as they spread across wider areas, road traffic accidents.

Deer numbers are increasing and in some places they are at their highest population densities for over a thousand years.

We cull deer through a co-ordinated system, and we also adjust our agricultural and forestry work to help minimise any damage caused by the animals. It's a necessary part of our conservation work to help look after the Lakes.

When does the cull take place?

The legal season for controlling deer varies depending on the species and sex. In the Lakes we are fortunate to have two predominant wild deer populations which are the two native species, red and roe deer. The legal season for culling red and roe females is 1 November - 31 March, 1 August – 30 April for red stags and 1 April – 31 October for roe bucks. The rut can take place at any time between mid July and the end of August for roe deer, and September to December for red deer. We always try to achieve the majority of the cull as early as possible in the season.

What happens to the venison?

The National Trust does not allow commercial stalking for trophies. The cull is carried out by professionally qualified stalkers and the venison is sold locally, usually to local game dealers.