Fallow deer in Sicily: recent history, consistence and ecological role

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Abstract

The fallow deer extends far beyond its original range due to recurrent extinctions and reintroductions.In Sicily, the species became extinct in the 19th century and reintroduced at the beginning of 1980. Individuals were initially restricted to fenced areas, however, many escaped and began rapid colonization. Here we report fallow deer population estimations in two areas comprising the bulk of individuals in Sicily: the Madonie mountains and the Ficuzza Nature Reserve, and we discuss the potential impacts and solutions. The data we collected confirm that fallow deer populations are in marked expansion in both areas, particularly in the Madonie. Compared to their initial range, fallow deer have now been recorded in several localities and an increasing number of conflicts have been reported, particularly regarding competition with domestic animals and damage to agricultural crops. The fallow deer’s natural predator, the wolf, is no longer present, and hunting is forbidden inside these protected areas. Preliminary results of the effects of feral dogs in the control or repellence of fallow deer seem interesting, although further studies are needed to fully understand their potential impact on the ecosystem. Surprisingly, Europe has no common ungulate management policy within national parks, making a comparison of results between countries difficult. Furthermore, the lack of studies assessing fallow deer population dynamics and their ecologicalrole impose a number of constraints in defining the best strategy to pursue and extant Italian guidelines for ungulate management seem to be seldom applied in Sicily to date.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteLife on islands. 1. Biodiversity in Sicily and surrounding islands. Studies dedicated to Bruno Massa
Pagine399-409
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2020

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