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Deer come back to lousã mountains

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As in other European countries, our country has experienced an increase in the number and distribution of wild ungulates in recent decades.

At present there are around 3,000 red deer (cervus elaphus) in the center of Portugal, all thanks to the reintroduction program of the species, one of the most emblematic being in Serra da Lousã, according to a study entitled "the success of species reintroductions: a Case study of red deer in Portugal two decades after reintroduction" by Ana Valente, Jorge Valente, Carlos Fonseca and Rita Torres.

The species that had ceased to be sighted for almost a century and a half in the national territory, due mainly to the pressure of hunting, fragmentation and destruction of the habitat, was the target of the global management plan for the population of wild ungulates, which aimed to increase and restore the herbivorous biodiversity of the region, as well as, had the purpose of allowing controlled hunting in the future.
The scientific project, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, in partnership with the University of Aveiro, between 1995 and 1999 placed a total of 96 individuals, 25 males, 56 females and 15 fawns, from other areas in the south of Portugal, namely the hunting areas in Vila Viçosa and Herdade da Contenda, in an area of 92.053ha, between Figueiró dos Vinhos, Penela, Miranda do Corvo, Góis, Castanheira de Pêra and Pampilhosa da Serra.

Between March 2013 and June 2014, the study authors note that "red deer groups were counted in sampling plots placed along a total of 61 randomly distributed transects, each 1000 m long, to estimate abundance of these wild ungulates using the pallet-based distance sampling method (groups with more than six animals) to estimate the current density and distribution of populations of this species in the Serra da Lousã, two decades after its reintroduction. The results show that the project to reintroduce red deer in the mountains of Lousã was a success, as the population increased in number and expanded to new territories".

Another of the conclusions emphasizes that "appropriate management policies should benefit from the information generated from these studies and strike a balance between the different interests involved, with a comprehensive understanding of the population dynamics. Considering the ecological and social potential of red deer, future monitoring programs should continue to be developed to address potential threats as well as to identify and minimize potential conflict situations. "


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