Due to a lack of natural predators, the number of deer across the UK is believed to be at its highest level for a millennium*. This phenomenon is also evident on Ashdown Forest and the surrounding landscape, where increasing numbers of deer, particularly Fallow deer, which were introduced to Britain by the Normans, have had a growing negative impact on our woodland ecology, including rare and protected species like dormice. The high deer numbers can also contribute to the number of potentially dangerous Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVCs) on the roads, particularly at this time of year when the nights are drawing in. To help manage this increase, Ashdown Forest works in collaboration with other local landowners and organisations to manage numbers through an annual culling programme.
The deer culling season varies depending on the species and sex of the deer, but is generally between August to April. Occasionally it is necessary on welfare grounds to operate outside these dates in the event of injured or diseased animals. It is therefore possible that you might encounter officially authorised deer managers on the Forest throughout the year. Safety is a top priority and all authorised deer managers are trained and experienced to ensure the safety of other visitors to the Forest.
The unauthorised removal, trapping or killing of an animal, bird, insect, or fish on Ashdown Forest (or the carrying of equipment to enable this) is prohibited under the Byelaws. We have on occasion been made aware of unauthorised activity on the Forest. In these eventualities the police are made aware to ensure the safety of the public.
If visitors to the Forest have any concerns about unauthorised deer stalkers on the Forest, we invite you to contact the Duty Ranger who will be able to confirm whether there is any authorised activity taking place at that time and location. Please call on 01342 822846.