Accommodation of Casualty Deer (Wildlife Casualty Management)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B.  This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Accommodation which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Capreolus capreolus - Western roe deer, Cervus elaphus - Red deer, Cervus nippon - Sika deer, Dama dama - Fallow deer, Hydropotes inermis - Chinese water deer, Muntiacus reevesi - Chinese muntjac.

These species are from the family Cervidae.

Deer are easily stressed and poorly designed housing may result in death of the casualty. Darkness, warmth and quiet are essential for individuals requiring intensive care.

Accommodation for casualty deer should:

  • Be screened from human activity and the sight/smell sound of dogs.
  • Preferably allow observation at a distance and the provision of food with minimal disturbance.

(P19.1.w2, D28)

Transport Container:

  • Casualty immobile/recumbent roe deer (e.g. following a road traffic accident) may be transported wrapped in blankets or a sleeping bag to restrain the legs. Care must be taken to ensure that the casualty does not overheat during transport. (D24)
  • Muntjac and Chinese water deer may be transported inside a large robust pet carrier with an appropriate non-slip flooring such as a piece of carpet. (B151, V.w5)
  • Muntjac, roe deer and Chinese water deer may be transported inside a narrow wooden box designed for transporting deer. (B151, V.w5, J3.96.w2)
  • Suggested crate dimensions:
  • Crate construction: 
    • Marine-quality five-ply boards on wooden frame.
    • Sliding doors on both ends.
    • Floor should be grooved for grip on the inside and strengthened with cross battens underneath.
    • Carrying handles on the sides may be hinged for ease of storage and loading.
    • Ventilation holes must be provided, e.g. in both sides, doors and top.
    • (J3.96.w2)
    • The crate should have a hinged lid (locked/bolted when a deer is in the crate) and a sliding door (sliding upwards to open).(B151)
    • Carpet attached tot he floor of the crate provides a secure non-slip surface.(J35.143.w1); alternatively hay or straw should be provided in the bottom of the crate for a more secure footing.(B151, V.w5, J3.96.w2)
  • N.B. The use of hobbles on deer during transportation is not recommended. These may result in severe injuries to the distal limbs of the deer.(D24)

Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:

  • Area should be small; this prevents the deer gathering speed in escape attempts and therefore reduces the risk of serious self-inflicted injury to the deer.
  • Darkness, warmth and quiet are essential.
  • A calf mat or similar should be used as a non-slip flooring and for warmth, with additional loose bedding such as hay.
  • Screening from view is important.
  • Heat lamps should be available to provide warmth in winter and for e.g. shocked animals.
  • A standard hospital dog kennel or a large robust plastic pet carrier (e.g. Vari Kennel) may be used for small species, but not if in the vicinity of dogs etc.
  • For the larger deer species an isolated shed or stable is required as with medium-term accommodation.
    • A padded equine anaesthetic recovery box may be used if available.

(P19.1.w2, D28, V.w26)

Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:

  • Maintain in an isolated shed/stable, away from noise, humans, dogs and general disturbance.
  • Small areas are preferred to reduce self-inflicted injuries from crashing about within the area (small areas prevent the deer gathering speed in escape attempts and therefore reduces the risk of serious injury to the deer).
  • Walls should be smooth without any jutting out structures.
    • If supporting uprights are on the inside walls the walls should be lined using stock boarding.
  • Screens e.g. of brushwood may be used to provide cover/seclusion for the occupant.
  • Dim light (e.g. with red bulbs) may assist in keeping deer calm.
  • A sloping floor is ideal for drainage.
  • Deep hay may be used to provide both bedding and fodder.
  • Calf mats may be used to cover concrete to provide non-slip flooring and warmth, with additional loose bedding such as hay.
  • Heat lamps should be available to provide warmth in winter and for e.g. shocked animals.
  • Ensure ventilation is sufficient, particularly in summer, but avoid draughts.
  • Feeding should be possible with the minimum of disturbance to the deer.
  • The door of the shed or stable should be split in half in the traditional "stable door" pattern; this enables observation through the top half with less risk of escape.
    • A peephole in the top door increases the ease of observation with minimal disturbance and minimal risk of escape.
  • Facility for observation at a distance is beneficial.

Hydropotes inermis - Chinese water deer, Muntiacus reevesi - Chinese muntjac:

  • Small shed, floor area only about 1.8 x 1.2m.(B151)

Capreolus capreolus - Western roe deer, Dama dama - Fallow deer:

  • Floor area about 2.4m x 1.8m.(B151)

(B151, J3.96.w2, D24, D28, P19.3.w1, V.w5)

Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation:

  • A paddock with attached loose box and/or appropriate-sized sheds/hutches within the paddock.
  • Deer paddocks should have fences at least 2 metres high, preferably sprung so that deer running into the fencing will bounce off and not seriously injure themselves. 
  • Paddock should contain a variety of grass and browse vegetation to encourage natural feeding behaviour by grazing and browsing species respectively.
  • No herbicides or other agrochemicals should be used on the paddock.
  • A double-gate security entrance to the paddock (with only one gate open at any time) minimises the risk of escape.
  • Water troughs should be automatic-filling to ensure a constant supply of water.
  • Mineral blocks should be provided under rainproof shelters.
  • Paddock should be screened from external view if possible.
  • If possible the paddock should be located in such an area that soft-release direct from the paddock is used.
  • If soft-release from the paddock is not possible, the paddock should be designed to assist in ease of catching of the deer, e.g. by allowing covert closure of the stable door while the deer is sheltering in it.

(D28, B151, V.w26)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is being prepared.
    • The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
  • Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs, should also be considered.
  • Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for temporary occupancy.
    • In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily treatment.
    • A period in rehabilitation accommodation may be important when an animal has been hospitalised for some time.
  • Deer are easily stressed and poorly designed housing may result in death of the casualty. 
  • Darkness, warmth and quiet are essential for individuals requiring intensive care.
  • In choosing or constructing accommodation for these animals it is important to consider the requirements for handling, provision of food and water, cleaning and disinfection.
  • Accommodation should be checked daily for damage.
  • Rehabilitation accommodation must allow discrete observation.
  • If an animal is maintained in long-term care accommodation for a substantial period of time, the animal must have some form of environmental enrichment to encourage natural behaviours (possibly through food presentation techniques, cage furniture that encourages activity, or play items that would be found in its native environment). This is to reduce the risk of boredom as the animal becomes accustomed to its enclosure and the possible development of behavioural problems such as stereotypies (abnormal repetitive movements such as pacing etc.). (V.w6)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Risk of escape must be minimised.
  • Risk of injury must be minimised.
  • Risk of injury to people must be minimised.
  • May be physical and/or psychological problems associated with confinement.
  • Risk of injury to the deer during catch-up is increased if a large paddock is not designed in such a way that the deer can be confined easily in a smaller area (stable or side pen) where the animal is unable to gather speed to attempt escape.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Most materials required for the construction of suitable cages, sheds and enclosures or the adaptation of existing structures may be obtained from standard fencing or farm-equipment stores.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Construction of enclosures requires some expertise.
Cost/ Availability
  • May be expensive – the cost is generally proportional to the strength and durability of construction materials used.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
  • A wild animal in captivity is protected under the same welfare legislation as domestic animals, e.g. Protection of Animals Acts 1911-2000; under this legislation it is an offence to treat a captive animal cruelly or to cause it unnecessary suffering.
    • This includes an obligation to provide proper attention and care.
    • The keeper has a duty to keep all wildlife casualties in a fit manner, in accommodation of a size which allows reasonable movement and with an environment suitable for its normal way of life.
    • (J35.147.w1, P19.2.w1, D27, D28)
  • Accommodation which does not fulfil the physiological and psychological requirements of the animal and results in an inadequate level of fitness at the time of release may seriously compromise the survival ability of that animal. Release of an animal which is unfit may be an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 (J35.147.w1, W5.Jan01).
  • Risks to human health, both physical and risk of zoonotic illness, must be minimised: Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
  • An offence may be committed under article 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 if a species on Schedule 9 of that Act, or a species not ordinarily resident in the UK is allowed to escape from accommodation in which it is being housed.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties.
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman

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