New Zealand evolved without native grazing mammals. Land mammals (apart from the native bats!) have been introduced by humans.
Deer were imported and released here from 1851 and have changed our forests and plant communities from the alpine regions to the low lands dramatically ever since. Their favourite foods include: three-finger, five-finger, lancewood, hen and chicken fern, broadleaf, māhoe, patē and high-altitude and subalpine shrubs like stinkwood.
However, deer are also keenly hunted for recreation and commercially harvested for venison.
Deer, antelopes, pigs, giraffes, camels, cattle… hippos (and whales, hippos’ closest relatives) belong to the same large group: cetartiodactyla! They are all even-toed hoofed mammals. Their third and fourth toes equally carry their weight. Horses are odd-toed hoofed mammals, as their weight is mainly carried by their third toe.
Can you find out the difference between antlers and horns?
- Did you know that seven species of deer are found in the wild in New Zealand?
- From deer stalking to helicopters
- Pest detective for experts
- Deer’s activities for younger children