Where will you find deer in Scotland?
Scotland is home to red, roe, fallow and sika deer. These four species contribute to a healthy population across the country. Deer are extremely widespread. As well as grazing on quiet moors and woodland, they can be found near or even in urban areas too.
There are slight variations in diet between species, but deer generally feed on grasses, herbs and heathers.
What are the main threats to deer?
Many deer are injured in road traffic accidents, particularly in areas where roads run through woodland or moors. If you come across an injured deer by the roadside, find a safe place to stop and check on it.
If the deer is alive, you can call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 and a member of the team will offer advice and ask a Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer to attend. We’ll assess the deer’s injuries and, depending on the result of that, move it to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Fishcross or put it to sleep if it has injuries too severe to recover from. Deer are naturally timid animals who are easily stressed and the anxiety caused by moving it can be too much.
What to do if you come across a fawn
Fawns are left alone by their mothers from a very early age. The mother goes off foraging for food and leaves them curled up under bushes or in long grass to protect them from predators. Sometimes, humans or dogs disturb baby deer.
If you come across a fawn, our advice is to leave it be unless it is showing signs of distress or calling out for its mother. When you return, it may be in the same place but still not showing any signs of needing help. This usually means the mother has been back to feed it.
If a fawn has been abandoned, it will call for its mother and eventually move from its hiding place. This is when it needs our help. If you’ve observed it for several hours and this happens, call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
How we help deer and fawns
We’ve successfully released dozens of young deer back in to the wild since our Naional Wildlife Rescue Centre opened in 2012.
Fawns can spend up to six months in our care, especially if they arrive during the colder months. We use baby bottles to feed them until they are able to self-feed, at which point we take a more hands-off approach to prepare them for life in the wild.
Before release, there’s a number of factors to consider such as landowners permission, the existing deer population and predatory threats. We’ll identify a suitable location which maximises the chance of survival.