Growing deer population in Rhodope rewilding area in Bulgaria 

6 May 2020

Red and fallow deer populations in Rhodope  rewilding area in Bulgaria are increasing rewarding the team’s rewilding efforts. The Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation have been working for many years to reestablish populations of both fallow and red deer in Bulgaria’s Eastern Rhodope mountains. Introducing small groups of animals over successive years is proving a good way to establish viable red and fallow deer populations. 

Тhe rewilding efforts including the latest releases, more than 400 fallow and 50 red deer have now been reintroduced at sites across the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, with deer populations released earlier now increasing. 

Collected data from deer from monitoring including transmitters tracking and photo traps data show that deer population has steadily grown. The population of red deer has been estimated between 80-100 animals during this spring census carried out by rewilding experts. The largest group of animals, between 60 and 80,  is observed in Studen Kladenets key rewilding area. The next census will take place in January next year when clearer population trends in the area’s populations can be reported. 

The data received  from  field observations and monitoring is supplemented by information  collected from tracking technologies. The movement of some of the animals  is being followed closely thanks to GPS-GSM transmitters,  fitted before releasing the animals. In addition to tracking tools, photo traps are also valuable information that is placed near frequently visited animal trails. Information on the movement of the animals is also collected with the help of locals. 

Group of red deer “cought” on photo-trap.

Some of the  released animals are already occupying migrating/spreading  to other neighbouring rewilding areas in  Eastern Rhodopes; some are venturing even further – in the western part of the mountain range. QUOTE Stefan: This is a natural process. Some interesting observation that we made during the monitoring trips in the area is that few animals released in the Easthern part of the mountain have already mixed with the populations from the Western Rhodopes.  Our team is expecting a new generation of fawns in late May and early June, which is likely to further increase the existing population. 

Similar population trends are observed with the more numerous fallow deer in the area. More than 400 animals have been released in the area in recent years in an attempt to boost the area’s existing population. Currently released animals have formed at least three separate populations.  

The biodiversity in the Rhodopes is one of the richest in Europe, with wild herbivores, including  red and fallow, playing a crucial role in this. The herbivores support a whole range species in the mosaic landscape typical for the area. 



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