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Sika deer to be monitored

Sika deer in the Dorset area are to be monitored by satellite in an effort to research the species? movements. Global positioning system (GPS) collars, financed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), are currently in the process of being fitted to 10 stags and five hinds as part of a wild deer research project run by Bournemouth University. The project is being supported by the British Deer Society (BDS), together with the RSPB, whose reserve at Arne, in Dorset, is a protected wetland and the subject of concern over deer damage.

Worries over the sharp rise in sika numbers in the Purbeck area and their impact on other species? habitats, including reedbeds, salt marsh, bogs, heath and ancient woodland, have prompted Bournemouth University to undertake the study to follow deer movements at various stages in the year and to assess their impact on the local ecosystem.

The study zone incorporates the tank live-firing area at Lulworth. Despite being used as a range since 1916, the area has an SSSI designation and includes species such as woodlark, warbler, nightjar and sand lizard. The ranges also provide an excellent habitat for sika, with plenty of food, cover and minimal human disturbance.

MOD and local conservation group volunteers have already started driving deer into temporary nets, from where suitable stags are being selected for their age and health, collared with GPS tags and then set free. The resulting data will be collected and analysed by Bournemouth University.