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Annual Exmoor Deer Count

On the weekend of 18/19th February, hundreds of knowledgeable people across Exmoor set out before dawn to take part in the annual deer count.  Next year will see the 30th anniversary of this valuable exercise which was launched back in 1994 by the Exmoor and District Deer Management Society, a group set up by landowners and the hunts to coordinate deer management across the whole of the National Park and to ensure a viable, healthy herd of Red deer.

The count tries to ensure that each combe, each block of woodland and each tract of open moorland has someone watching and recording deer numbers and movement from pre-dawn for 1½ hours on two consecutive mornings.  Despite the challenge of the weather, sometimes including snow, ice or thick fog, the numbers have been remarkably stable over the years, with a population of 2500-3000 Red deer.  Whilst direct observation of deer across such a large and diverse landscape cannot produce an exact population size, it does result in a minimum population and, of equal importance, it provides useful data on the stag/hind ratio and the number of calves produced each year.

The continuing success of the annual count relies primarily on the hard work of Charles Harding, who coordinates the small army of participants, and who collects and compiles the results each year.  The landowners, farmers, Rangers and others who take part deserve gratitude for ensuring that such valuable data is recorded every year.

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