site.btaOver 100 Deer Released in Eastern Rhodopes over Last Few Months
A total of 17 red deer and 96 fallow deer have been released into the Rhodope Mountains over the last few months, said Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation. The State-owned Zhenda and Krumovgrad game farms and the Union of Hunters and Anglers in Bulgaria helped with the rewilding process.
The animals are under constant observation by the Rewilding Rhodopes team and local partners. The reintroduced and restocked animals will not be hunted for a minimum of 5 years. By the end of February another 35 red deer will be transported and released in core rewilding areas.
“Our goal is to restore two of the three deer species living in Bulgaria throughout the Eastern Rhodopes,” said Rewilding officer Stefan Avramov. In total, more than 600 fallow deer and 50 red deer have been relocated in the Eastern Rhodopes over the last 10 years, creating several increasing sub-populations of these two species. Another few hundreds animals are expected to be released in the Rewilding Rhodopes landscape to help advance nature recovery in the Rhodope Mountains. This is the largest deer reintroduction programme in Bulgaria.
The remains of dead fallow and red deer are an important food base for the endangered Egyptian, griffon, and black vultures. Local wolf populations prey on the deer, which boosts the availability of wild carcasses for the area’s endangered vulture species. “In the coming years, we expect to witness more evidence of vultures “scavenging” deer carcasses – be it photos from camera traps or satellite transmitters tracking the movements of animals and birds,” said Avramov.
At relatively low density, free-roaming deer also help to create open habitats that can help a wide range of other wildlife species thrive. Grazing on shrubs and trees, deer along with other herbivores help maintain the mosaic landscape of the Eastern Rhodopes, which is of great importance for the preservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.
Last winter a total of 81 fallow deer were released in the Eastern Rhodopes. The deer population is increasing year by year due to rewilding and natural growth.