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Cannock Case AONB Fallow and Red Deer Drone Census proves to have an interesting outcome!

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Cannock Chase AONB

Cannock Chase proved one of the most exciting projects to date due to its scale and the presence of both Red and Fallow deer. It’s a well-known woodland for deer due to the volume of public access and the high deer/vehicle collisions reported on the roads that cut through the woodland.

The survey took place in April 2022 with the objective of covering the whole AONB area within a two-day period. BH Wildlife Consultancy conducted the survey during night time hours which then extended into dawn which allowed high-quality day time imagery of both species.

From not having any previous knowledge of Cannock Chase we drew some interesting observations from the survey.

1. The Red deer were primarily in the south of the AONB with the Fallow primarily in the north. What struck me was that there appeared very little overlap in their respective ranges. This in part could have been due to the new 8ft fence along the railway line and the fact that there is a lot of public access day and night in Fairoak.

2. Typically the woodland had an even distribution of Fallow deer but every now and again there would be a high density or a very large single herd which was primarily due to an area of private ownership or an area that acted as a ‘refuge’.

It was a great pleasure to work with Robert Taylor (Cannock Chase Countryside Officer) and to see some of his cutting-edge deer deterrents being used to try and reduce deer vehicle collisions (DVC’s).

More information on the work they are doing can be found here – Cannock Chase Deer Management.

Photo of Cannock Chase AONB from the air taken with a drone

Here is a statement from Robert about how he felt the project went.

“We contacted Ben in late winter after seeing his article in a latest British Deer Society journal. We wanted to census the whole deer population within Cannock Chase AONB which is 26 square miles. Ben insured us that this could be achieved in 3 sessions and although it seemed rather ambiguous Ben’s knowledge, planning and expert equipment could give us what we were asking for within our budgets and timeframes.

Ben made the planning process run smoothly with regular team meetings with Myself and partners from the AONB to discuss logistics & timings etc.

Meeting Ben for the first time was like working with your closest colleague. His professionalism, work ethic and sense of humour is second to none, and made the whole survey go swimmingly with no hitches.

On completion of the census, Ben sent over all the documentation which included a report, detailed heat maps showing population and distribution.

This has provided us with a vital tool in future Deer management within the AONB and as gives us educational knowledge of the current deer population to visitors and site managers rather than guessing or using data from less accurate census techniques.

I would highly recommend Ben and his company to anyone who wants an accurate census of deer within an area.“

We really look forward to working with Robert Taylor as well as the Forestry Commission England Wildlife Ranger again in November.

For more information on how we use drones for deer population counts please look at our website or email us on

Herd of Red Hinds in Cannock Chase AONB taken with a drone
Herd of Red Hinds in Cannock Chase AONB

Herd of Red Hinds photographed with the thermal drone
Same herd of Red Hinds photographed with the thermal drone

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