Gill Sinclair's picture

Red deer

Observed: 14th May 2013 By: Gill Sinclair
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course completeThe Mammal SocietyThe Vincent Wildlife Trust
Mammals expert
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Description:

Stag beginning to get this year's antlers.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

the naturalist man's picture

Red deer

Handsome looking chap!

It always amazes me the amount of energy stags put into growing new antlers every year, anyone know why they don't keep them as cattle, sheep, goats etc. do?

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
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Gill Sinclair's picture

Red deer antlers

It does always strike me as counter-intuitive that deer grow and shed antlers every year when horns effectively serve the same purposes and are permanent. Do antlers take any energy-sapping maintenance once they've grown which wouldn't be good in lean times during winter? I don't think so. I guess just a case of convergent evolution - two solutions to the same evolutionary needs, so once deer went down that route by chance and larger antlers started to give males a competitive advantage, there was no going back.

On this trip to Scotland we learned about 'hummels' - stags that never grow antlers, and another genetic condition which means that the first set is never shed but the velvet re-grows every year - I can't remember the name for such stags - anyone know (it means a type of curly beard I think). Stalkers are apparently under instructions to cull either of these types of stag on sight, because the estate managers don't want the genes passing on - 12-pointer stags are the preferred option because they're most in demand as trophies for hunters. For one that contradicts the story that culling helps take out the old, sick and injured (these stags are not sick or weak), but in any case I think if you left nature to its own devices the hinds probably wouldn't fancy a stag with no antlers or one with curly stuff on his.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
www.gillsinclair.net
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

the naturalist man's picture

Stags

Interesting, I knew you could get these mutations but didn't know they were common enough to give them names. Doesn't surprise me they cull them,no good for trophies I suspect. Going for 12 pointers does nothing for the 'sick and injured' myth either!

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411