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Why the deer are losing their antlers at Charlecote Park

Deer at Charlecote Park. Photo: Jana Eastwood.
Deer at Charlecote Park. Photo: Jana Eastwood.

VISITORS to Charlecote Park have been told not to pick up any deer antlers that they come across at the historic estate.

The dropping of the antlers by the 200-strong herd of fallow deer throughout May is triggered by a drop in testosterone levels after the rut back in the autumn.

Deer eat the antlers because they are rich in the nutrients and minerals that are essential to their diet.

And it is for that reason that the man responsible for Charlecote's deer, Paul Smith, the park and gardens manager, has asked visitors to either leave antlers where they see them or hand them to staff so nature can run its course.

Paul added: “What surprises many people, is that the deer nibble at the antlers once they have been dropped.

“Although dropping off or casting off their antlers sounds pretty extreme, this doesn’t hurt the deer at all.

"They fall off by themselves and the deer don’t feel a thing, it’s just a part of their natural, antler-growing cycle, they’ll grow them back almost as quickly as they drop them.

"By July into early August, the bucks will have completely regrown their antlers, which will be covered in a fuzzy layer of skin. This layer of ‘velvet’ supplies nutrients to the growing, honeycomb structured bone that the antlers are made of.”

The fallow deer herd at Charlecote Park, consists of four different types of deer: common, which are beige coloured with faint spotted markings; menil, which also have spots but lighter, buff coloured bellies; melanistic, the dark brown and black deer; and leucistic deer who are pale cream or white which, contrary to popular belief, are not albino deer.

Plans for a £2.5million revamp of facilities at Charlecote Park is underway following a sharp rise in the number of visitors in recent years, with annual visits now topping 200,000.

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