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One of the greatest problems facing conservation in the British Isles is the spread and establishment of introduced species. Integrated and co-ordinated species surveillance and monitoring is imperative to document the arrival, establishment, spread and impact of alien species. Introduced Reeve’s muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) are highly invasive causing extensive ecological and economic damage to forestry, crops, biodiversity, species of conservation concern and humans directly.
The first record of this species in
The species can be legally held in captivity and the risk of its establishment appears high. Consideration should be given to outlawing muntjac imports and registering captive animals under licence.
The aim of this project was to transfer knowledge on effective, safe and efficacious control of muntjac deer to Northern Ireland in logical preparation for their colonisation.
Specifically, we reviewed invasion ecology, ecological and economic impacts and the efficacies of three methods of control assessed: 1) classical stalking by foot, 2) stationary use of a buttolo call and 3) stationary elevated high seat shooting.
A reference collection of muntjac specimens has been collected to facilitate species identification, training and detection in Northern Ireland, including a full-body mount, full and partial skins, skulls including uppers incisors, lower jaws and teeth, faecal pellets and plaster casts of footprint slots and pads.
Molecular markers have also been developed to facilitate species identification from tissue or possibly faecal samples using a 675 base-pair fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (CYTB) gene.
During 2009, 10 x 1 hour species detection and identification training seminars will be held to increase awareness of muntjac deer to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), British Deer Society (BDS), National Trust (NT), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) staff and other interested parties.
We list five options for action; each is scored on its cost and the risk it represents in allowing muntjac to become naturalised in Northern Ireland:
- Reactive legislative response
No further action is taken until muntjac presence is confirmed after which the species is placed on a year-round open season to facilitate control.
Low cost / high risk
- Limited proactive response
Transfer detection and identification knowledge to key personnel. Individual parties follow up existing and future anecdotal reports using existing low-tech equipment such as spotlamps and buttolo calls.
Low cost / Intermediate risk
- Limited low-tech pre-emptive response
Employment of a part-time contractor to investigate existing anecdotal reports using low-tech equipment such as spotlamps and buttolo calls.
Intermediate cost / Intermediate-low risk
- Limited high-tech pre-emptive response
Employment of a part-time contractor to investigate existing anecdotal reports using high-tech equipment such as thermography, DNA analysis of tissue and faecal pellets, spotlamps and buttolo calls.
Intermediate cost / Low risk
- Full scale high-tech pre-emptive res ponse
Employment of a full-time contractor and a part-time field officer to investigate existing and future anecdotal reports using top-of-the-range image intensifiers, thermography, DNA analysis of tissue and faecal pellets, spotlamps and buttolo calls.
High cost / Lowest risk
Option i. is likely to encourage the deliberate release of muntjac by those keen on year-round stalking; consequently, we recommend that either option ii. or option iii. Is implemented immediately, whilst consideration is given to the implementation of options iv. or v. when suitable resources become available.
You can download the final report here:
Dick, J.T.A, Provan, J. & Reid, N. (2009) Muntjac Knowledge Transfer: Ecology of introduced muntjac deer and appraisal of control procedures. Report prepared by the Natural Heritage Research Partnership, Quercus for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Northern Ireland, UK.