GWCT National Gamebag Census & Tracking Mammals Partnership

Sika deer Cervus nippon

Taxonomy: Class: Mammalia; Order: Artiodactyla; Family: Cervidae

Description

Sika deer photo
Sika deer © Peter Thompson

The sika deer originates from Japan, Taiwan and the adjacent mainland of eastern Asia. It is intermediate in size between roe and red deer, with a white-spotted coat in summer. The tail is shorter than that of fallow. The sika deer was introduced into deer parks from 1860 onwards. Over the past 150 years many have escaped and bred successfully in the wild, especially in areas of acid soils. They readily hybridise with red deer. Stags may be shot from 1 August to 30 April, hinds from 1 November to 31 March.

Further information:
Mammal Society website sika deer page.

Conservation status and legislation

Status:
UK: Non-native
World: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

Legislation:
 
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Distribution and abundance

The sika deer is widespread across northern and western mainland Scotland, and in the Scottish Borders. In England, the main concentrations are in Cumbria, Lancashire and Hampshire/Dorset, with many other small scattered colonies. In Ireland, it is found in the north-west, south-east and south-west, although a scarcity of records means that this is not apparent from the map.

Estimates of sika deer abundance (numbers of individuals in the spring) across the UK, from Harris et al. (1995):

United Kingdom 11,500
England 2,500
Scotland 9,000
Wales 0
N Ireland no estimate

Recent trends from the National Gamebag Census

United Kingdom

Index of bag density from 1984 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Sika deer trend United Kingdom

Too few sites reported sika deer to evaluate trends until 1984. There has been a significant increase in the bag index between 1984 and 2009, reflecting the ongoing range expansion and increasing abundance of this introduced species.

Change in sika deer bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
United Kingdom 59 1984 2009 no data 161*
64 to 459
61*
25 to 109

* significant at P < 0.05

England

Index of bag density from 1995 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Sika deer trend England

Too few English sites reported sika deer to evaluate trends until 1995. There has been no detectable change in bag index between 1995 and 2009.

Change in sika deer bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
England 14 1995 2009 no data no data 46
-11 to 1119

* significant at P < 0.05

Scotland

Index of bag density from 1984 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Sika deer trend Scotland

Two sites reported sika deer between 1961 and 1983. There has been a significant increase in the bag index between 1984 and 2009, reflecting the ongoing range expansion and increasing abundance of this introduced species.

Change in sika deer bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Scotland 42 1984 2009 no data 415*
87 to 1206
93*
15 to 263

* significant at P < 0.05

Wales

There are too few bag records of sika deer to produce an index graph. Sika deer trend Wales

 

There are too few bag records of sika deer to evaluate rates of change over time

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Wales Too few sites

N Ireland

There are too few bag records of sika deer to produce an index graph. Sika deer trend N Ireland

 

There are too few bag records of sika deer to evaluate rates of change over time

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
N Ireland Too few sites

Environmental zones

Change in sika deer bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Environmental zone Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Easterly lowlands (England/Wales) 11 1995 2009 no data no data -11*
-15 to -7
Westerly lowlands (England/Wales) Too few sites
Uplands (England/Wales) Too few sites
Lowlands (Scotland) Too few sites
Intermediate uplands/islands (Scotland) Too few sites
True uplands (Scotland) 33 1995 2009 no data no data 42
-11 to 103

* significant at P < 0.05

Comparison with BBS mammal data

No comparison with the NGC trend is possible because too few sika deer records are received through the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) organised by the British Trust for Ornithology.

Long-term trend from the National Gamebag Census

There are too few bag records of sika deer to produce a trend starting before 1984.

References and further reading

  • Battersby,J. (2005). UK Mammals: Species Status and Population Trends. Joint Nature Conservation Committee/Tracking Mammals Partnership, Peterborough (JNCC download page).
  • Deer Initiative (2008). Species Ecology: Sika Deer. England & Wales Best Practice Guides, The Deer Initiative, Chirk (PDF file - 4,466 KB).
  • Harris,S., Morris,P., Wray,S. & Yalden,D.W. (1995). A Review of British Mammals: Population Estimates and Conservation Status of British Mammals Other than Cetaceans. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough (JNCC download page).
  • Harris,S. & Yalden,D.W. (2008). Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook, 4th edition. Mammal Society, Southampton.
  • Putman,R. (2000). Sika Deer. Mammal Society & British Deer Society, Southampton & Fordingbridge.
  • Ratcliffe,P.R. (1987). Distribution and current status of Sika deer, Cervus nippon, in Great Britain. Mammal Review 17: 39-58.

This report should be cited as: Aebischer,N.J., Davey,P.D. & Kingdon,N.G. (2011). National Gamebag Census: Mammal Trends to 2009. Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Fordingbridge (http://www.gwct.org.uk/ngcmammals).

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