Title The effects of the division of red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) into subpopulations in Germany
In most parts of Germany red deer are confined to small territories. These territories were established in the 19th century to preserve the animals and to make hunting them easier for the nobility. In some states, especially the northern states like Mecklenburg-West-Pomerania and Lower Saxony, the red deers are not confined to special areas of the state but are allowed to roam freely. If the deer travel between these territories, they must be shot which severely limits the genetic exchange between the different populations. A second factor contributing to the division of red deer into subpopulations is the high degree of dissection in Germany through infrastructure and settlement which disturbs the seasonal migrations of the deers. The division into subpopulations leads to a lower genetic diversity as well as inbreeding especially in small areas. The deers also tend to have a high density in the center of the territories as opposed to the borders which leads to high stress levels in the red deers. The high density of red deer also leads to damage in the forestry and agricultural sectors as the deers are feeding from the fields and the trees. Another problem is the higher number of accidents involving deers with high property damage and serious injuries. A possible solution to these problems could be the establishment of special bridges covered in vegetation that would allow wild animals including deers to cross the roads. Another solution is the abolishment of the red deer territories in all parts of Germany. The abolishment of the red deer territories would lead to the possibility of the deers to roam freely and to a much lower density of deers which would have positive influences on the damage the deers inflict on forests and the agriculture as seen in the states which do not have red deer territories. The abolishment of the red deer territories would probably lead to conflict with the hunters as a lower density of red deers would make hunting them, especially the lucrative hunting for trophies, more difficult.
Keywords red deer; population; conflicts