Red deer

Red deer
It is one of the three deer species in Bulgaria - red deer, fallow deer and roe deer. It is no coincidence that the red deer is called "noble" in Bulgarian. With his dignified posture and powerful antlers, he has inspired artists, sculptors, photographers from centuries to the present days. In ancient times he was considered a helper of shamans, and his image and sculptures can be found in caves, Thracian tombs, Roman mosaics, rock sheds and even in medieval churches. The red deer is a large herbivorous mammal of the order cloven-hoofed, which is distributed in Central and Western Europe, the European part of Russia, Central Asia, the Far East, North Africa, North America and some other regions.
He is the largest Bulgarian deer. Male deer are called stags and females are hinds. The most impressive are their antlers, which are characteristic only of males. They grow from March to April and sometimes reach over 1 m and weigh over 10 kg. The antlers become larger and branched with age, reaching their maximum at the age of ten, when their branches can number up to 24 or more. The fur of red deer is short and reddish-brown in summer, and in winter it darkens and becomes rather gray-brown. It was widespread in our country, but in the 30s of the last century it almost disappeared. Later it was reintroduced and nowadays it is currently mainly in the mountainous and flat part of Bulgaria and numbers over 20,000.

Protected status

National legislation
The red deer is a hunting species included in the Law on Hunting and Species Conservation.

International legislation 
The species is included in the Berne Convention - Annex III, ratified by Bulgaria on 01/25/1991, in force since 05/01/1991

Biology

Biology
Nutrition
The red deer is a herbivorous mammal that uses a variety of plants for food. The grass species are of the greatest importance for him. In addition, it eats the leaves, twigs and rhizomes of trees and shrubs such as winter oak, hawthorn, dogwood, blackberry and more. He also loves conifers. In winter, when it is harder to find food, deer are forced to starve or rely on their reserves accumulated in summer and autumn.

Reproduction
heir breeding season starts in September. Hinds reach sexual maturity at the age of 2, and males, although fit to produce offspring after the age of 3, do not actually participate in reproduction until they are 5-6 years old. Mature stags occupy the selected area - usually some open area in forest habitats, but also less frequently listed, ripening or mature forest. During the mating season, the stags hardly eat, but only drink water and harden, due to which they lose a lot of weight. Their wedding call is an inimitable roar, heard a few hundred meters away, with which they try to impress the females and repel the other stags. Hinds choose their mate on their own, attracted by males with a louder roar. Because red deer are polygamous animals, one male collects several females - often seven - eight, and sometimes significantly more - up to twenty. Once he has formed his harem, the stag defends him from any rival with warning roars or, if that is not enough, fierce battles with the horns. These battles are extremely impressive and sometimes, though rarely, they result in injuries.
The females, when they give birth, separate from the herd for a while and then rejoin. The young are born in May-June and do not separate from their mothers until the birth of the next generation - on the following year. Only one calf is born, twins are very rare. The calves have a spotted coat different from the adults, which protects them from enemies, making them less visible in the greenery. Hinds feed, train and fearlessly protect their young from predators. If the calf is a hind, after growing enough it remains with the same herd, but if it is a stag, it joins the herds of the other males.





Seasonal and day-and-night activity. Migrations
During the day, the red deer prefers to rest in some secret place. It is active in the evening, at night and early in the morning. Highly migratory species, its migration depends on the seasons, food and suitable breeding grounds. In winter, in mountainous areas it generally descends to lower altitudes in more wooded terrain, in search of increasingly scarce food supplies and to protect itself from predators. In summer it migrates to higher altitudes, where it finds more food and better places to raise the young.

Threats and limiting factors

Threats and limiting factors
Predators
The natural enemies of red deer are predators. In Bulgaria these are wolves, jackals and stray dogs. To protect from them the most vulnerable members of the species - the small ones, the hinds move in large herds, led by the oldest and most experienced hind. Both male and female prefer to use their sharp hooves for weapons. Their hard and well-pointed edges are often enough to seriously injure and repel their attackers. The red deer is also gifted with great agility and speed - it can ably jump obstacles over 2 meters long, and as an excellent swimmer, it swims rivers and lakes with ease. That is why not predators, but poachers are the main threat to the species.

Poaching
Poaching is the biggest threat to this majestic species and the reason for its extinction from many places in Bulgaria. Both in the past and nowadays, red deer are persecuted for their beautiful antlers and delicious meat. Although it is a hunting object, its hunting is allowed only from September 1 to January 31 - for males and from October 1 to December 31 - for females. Its hunting is prohibited all year round in our national parks. Therefore, if you see poachers who violate these prohibitions, immediately call 112.


This subpage has been produced withing the project "BIO-INNOVATE". The Project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and by national funds of the countries participating in INTERREG V-A “Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020″ Cooperation Programme. The contents of the page are the sole responsibility of Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the participating countries, the Managing Autority and the Joint Secretatiat.