Ukraine’s Forest Dwelling Deer

With its numerous national parks and wildlife reserves, Ukraine is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, and nature-loving travelers will not be disappointed when exploring these conservation areas. Species of birds and animals are as varied as the habitats that support them, with the country’s forest zone being home to mammals such as elk, roe deer, red deer, squirrel, wild boar, brown bear, lynx, beavers, wolves and foxes, as well as wood grouse, starlings, cranes and blue titmice, to mention a few. Forests in Ukraine consist primarily of fir, beech, spruce, hornbeam and ash trees, and fill an essential role in counteracting climate change in an increasingly industrial world.

It is believed that in prehistoric times at least one-third of the land area of modern-day Ukraine was covered in forests. However, human settlers had a huge impact on forests as between the 17th and 19th century wide-scale deforestation by lumber merchants took place, particularly in eastern and central Ukraine. In the 20th century the two World Wars and subsequent Soviet era saw forests stripped for trade and settlement. The Carpathian Mountains were among the regions most affected during this time, with beech, cedar and fir trees all but completely removed, followed by spruce growing in the denuded areas. Yew and oak trees also fell victim to lumber merchants, but since the 1980s fast-growing species of trees have been planted to replace those lost. Today, around 13.6 percent of the territory in Ukraine is covered in forest, most of which is protected in reserves.

Among the forest dwelling animals in Ukraine, the Red Deer is among the largest deer species, with the male of the species growing up to 260cm in length and weighing up to 240kg and featuring an impressive set of antlers which start growing in spring and are generally shed at the end of winter. They grow a thicker coat to protect them in the winter, which they shed in the warmer months by rubbing their bodies against the trees of their chosen habitat. Particularly well adapted to cold environments Roe Deer are relatively small, especially when compared with the Red Deer. Males grow to a maximum of 135cm, weighing up to 35kg and grow and shed their antlers in the same way as Red Deer do. Be sure to look out for these graceful deer when exploring the national parks and forests of Ukraine.