Muntjac deer

Invasive species alert for: Muntiacus reevesi (Ogilby, 1839)

Date issued: March 2010

Last updated: August 2011

Who has issued this alert?: This Species Alert has been issued jointly by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Invasive Species Ireland.

Common name(s): Muntjac deer; Reeves’s muntjac, Chinese muntjac, Barking deer

Where and when recorded: The most recent verified record is from near Ovens, County Cork. This was reported to the National Biodiversity Data Centre on the 12th of August 2011.

Has the species been recorded in Ireland/Northern Ireland before? In total, there are 13 different 10km2 gird squares spread with verified records from Ireland and Northern Ireland with records of muntjac deer. This corresponds to 9 different 10km2 gird squares from Ireland and 4 different 10km2 gird squares from Northern Ireland. There are also a number of anecdotal records but with insufficient information to determine the status of these.

Species description: This is a small, thickset deer with reddish fur and relatively short legs. It measures approximately 50cm at the shoulder in males and 47cm in females. When disturbed it shows a conspicuous white underside to the tail which can be seen as the animal runs away. Males have short simple antlers and two blackish lines that run across the forehead towards the snout. Females and young have a blackish pattern on the forehead.

Download the ID sheet for this species.

Invasive status: Muntjac deer was listed as a Most Unwanted potential invader in the Invasive Species Ireland 2007 risk assessment.

Introduction status: Sporadic records. Status of muntjac deer is currently unknown due to the secretive nature of this animal and current lack of systematic surveillance data.

Distribution frequency: Rare. An up-dated muntjac deer distribution map is now available to download. The static map showsboth confirmed sightings and unconfirmed sightings as of August 2011.

Impact: Muntjac browsing in woodland can clear areas of brambles and other shrubs, and prevent tree regeneration, with profound effects on coppice woodlands, the structure of the shrub and ground layers and the animals that depend on them for food or shelter, such as birds and butterflies.

Muntjac deer can cause road traffic accidents. In Britain, Muntjac contribute a substantial part of the almost 30,000 traffic accidents a year that are believed to be the result of collisions with invasive non-native deer.

Muntjac occasionally browse on growing crops and can cause serious losses in market gardens, allotments, and orchards. In forestry, trees often require protection from deer during their early years.

Is there a reference specimen?: Not for the majority of the sightings.

Actions taken to date: To curb the spread of the species, regulations were brought into force allowing muntjac deer to be hunted throughout the year.

Awareness raising efforts to encourage more reporting of sightings. Ongoing awareness raising of the restrictions relating to the release of non-native deer and other non-native animals.

Pathway of introduction: Muntjac deer cannot spread to Ireland or Northern Ireland naturally. It must be imported through ports. Escapes or deliberate release into the wild is the only mechanism for Muntjac to be found in the wild.

Where might I see it? Muntjac are found in a variety of lowland woodland types, preferring a dense understorey and access to arable farmland. They can occur in urban parks and large gardens. They are sometimes seen on road sides running away from a passer-by or from vehicles.

What can you do?:

  • Report sightings of suspected muntjac deer
  • Remember that it is against the law to release muntjac deer in Ireland
  • Do not import, sell or buy muntjac deer
  • Download the Muntjac_Deer_Alert – please circulate
  • View Map