Für die Menschen. Für Westfalen-Lippe.

Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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Red deer

Rote Liste NRW: nb nicht bewertet

Cervus elaphus




Foto: Bill Ebbesen
The Red Deer today is by far the largest free-roaming wild animal in North Rhine-Westphalia. The ancestors of modern Red Deer already occurred during the ice age 20,000 years ago. In appearance and movement the Red Deer seems horse-like. Characteristic are the sexually segregated herds, which, however, are basically open during the whole year for the respective other sex. Prior to the rutting season the oldest Bulls leave the bachelor herds first and move as dominant bulls to the family associations. The roaring as the most expressive vocalization allows us conclusions regarding the behaviour.

Red Deer originally occurred area-wide in North Rhine-Westphalia. Due to its phylogenetic imprint the Red Deer is very adaptable regarding its nutritional ecology. The Achilles heel for Red Deer in our densely populated cultural landscape is its behaviour towards enemies. In the course of the French Revolution and the German Revolution of 1848, Red Deer were extirpated from the wild in North Rhine-Westphalia. The resettlement of the original habitats took place since the middle of the 19th century.

Today the Red Deer lives on about 15% of the state′s area in the Red Deer areas Dämmerwald-Herrlichkeit Lembec and Kleve on the Lower Rhine. Added to this are the small populations in the Egge Mountains, the Wahner Heide, in the Königsforst and in the Nutscheid. The largest populations occur in the Eifel, in Siegerland, in Wittgenstein and Sauerland in the Teutoburg Forest and the Senne. The distribution of Red Deer is governed by a decree. In the face of the dense population this makes sense because this protects the occurrences, serves the preventative conflict minimisation and, in combination with strategies for habitat connectivity, secures the interconnectedness of the populations. As the largest wild animal in North Rhine-Westphalia the Red Deer takes on a key role as a flagship species for habitat connectivity, which at the same time benefits other species. The connectivity for the Red Deer requires that migration corridors are kept open, that in certain cases crossing aids are created and that the species is considered in the expansion of infrastructure and housing developments as well the tourism infrastructure in rural areas. The pushback of Red Deer into more or less closed forest areas, local wildlife concentrations, and the historical loss of the natural winter quarters in the azonal forest communities in the valleys locally lead to wildlife damage especially in the forest.


Michael Petrak


Petrak M (2023): Rothirsch (Cervus elaphus).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/26



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