The increasing population of Muntjac deer in around Bury St Edmunds and its outlying villages have been branded a “menace” and the animals have been labelled “voracious thugs”.
There has been an influx of them in urban areas and there have been reports of them being seen racing across the Abbey Gardens and in woods next to Mount Road, on the Moreton Hall Estate.
And Vic Saywell, who lives in Great Barton, has described them as “Bambi thugs.”
He posted comments on the social media website Nextdoor saying: “Yes, they look heart-meltingly cute. But behind the doe eyes, muntjac deer are a breeding and garden-destroying machine.”
He said the deer adore tulips, honeysuckle, shrubs and most vegetables and to them, a well-stocked garden is the same as a Michelin-starred eatery, while their numbers have risen.
He posted: “The fact is that muntjac deer are voracious thugs which destroy everything in their path. Numbers of them have soared over the past few years, to the extent that today we are suffering from a muntjac explosion which has pushed the UK population to more than 150,000.
“Not only that, they are utterly brazen. They march across immaculately mowed lawns and sip from birdbaths as if they own them.
“Unlike other deer, which breed once a year, female muntjacs normally have three offspring every two years and are pregnant solidly for most of their 15-year lives. And they have no natural predators.
“They are an invasive non-native species just like the marauding wild boar which have been digging up cricket pitches and village greens and attacking dogs and sheep in Gloucestershire.”
According to Peter Watson of The Deer Initiative (which works on sustainable management of wild deer in England and Wales), muntjacs — indeed, all deer — are causing untold damage.
“They are munching through dwindling native habitat and eat anything and everything they can get to — brambles, ivy, ferns,’ he says.
“The only thing they don’t do is strip the bark. You can tell if muntjacs are there the minute you walk into a wood — there’s no ivy or brambles up to their 2ft ‘browse’ line, the height they graze up to. If roe are present, the browse line will be closer to 5ft. Fallow and red deer, which measure a metre to the shoulder, can reach foliage up to 7ft.’
They all crunch through our wild flora — primroses, oxlips, orchids and bluebells.”
Meanwhile, Trish Muxlow, from Beyton, said the only positive thing about muntjac “is that they are very tasty.” While Simon Ingram, from the •Mildenhall Road and Howard are of Bury St Edmunds added: “They cause havoc on my allotment.