WHEN the Northern Ireland Environment Agency needed expertise on deer recently, it called on Sparsholt College.

The college’s wildlife department advised them on the control of Muntjac deer, which are not native to the United Kingdom and have now colonised parts of Northern Ireland.

Charles Smith-Jones, Sparsholt’s deer expert, hosted Jaimie Dick, Professor of Invasion Ecology at Queen’s University Belfast, and who is working on the project with the environment agency.

The pair visited sites across the county where Mr Smith-Jones oversees the deer population using trail cameras for monitoring.

Mr Smith-Jones said: “The potential problems this species presents should not be underestimated. From a general public perspective the most obvious risk is that of increased road traffic accidents.

"Muntjac also cause significant commercial damage to agriculture land and private gardens as well as impacting on the environment by displacing our native species, competing with them for feed and resources.

"In large numbers they will strip woodland undergrowth which affects ground nesting birds and small mammals.”