Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

High-tech census of forest deer


Thermal imaging equipment was used to track the deer at night.

Wardens at a medieval forest in Essex have used high-tech equipment in their annual deer survey.

Thermal imaging cameras have been used across 1,000 acres of Hatfield Forest owned the National Trust.

The cameras were used after dark to detect the heat from the deer's bodies in the undergrowth.

Last year, around 220 fallow and muntjac deer were counted which was much higher than wardens wanted as too many deer can damage the habitat.

Henry Bexley, the head warden at Hatfield, said: "The fallow population should be nearer 150 and muntjac zero."

Left unchecked, deer numbers can soar leading to a damaged environment, a weak and sickly deer population and even an increased risk of car accidents.

The numbers are culled to a level that means all plants and animals can flourish.

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