Common name – Sika Deer

Latin name – Cervus nippon


Sika deer were mid-19th century imports from the Far East into some UK estates.  The majority came from Japan and a combination of releases into the wild and park escapees have resulted in growing feral Sika populations.


Geographical distribution

Distribution is spreading and they are now widespread in Scotland.  Whilst numbers are lower in England, Sika are found particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire, together with Dorset and the New Forest.  They are also well established in Northern Ireland.  Their preferred habitat is heathland thickets and woodland, especially if they are able to graze on nearby arable crops.

Social behaviour

Sika tend to be more solitary than other species, occupy particular ranges but may come together in small groups during winter months.  Though not nocturnal, they are most active during the hours of darkness.

sika hind

 Management notes

Damage to crops and woodland can be a concern, albeit that Sika stalking can provide a useful income for landowners.  A further, increasing concern to many is inter-breeding between Sika and Reds.  Taken together, the above considerations mean that cross boundary management is the most effective way of controlling this species.

 Breeding season

The rut amongst Sika deer can correspond closely to that of Fallow, with Sika stags either defending a rutting territory and gathering a harem or setting off in search of receptive hinds.

Mating occurs from the end of September through November with single calves being born some 7.5 months later in May to late June.


Shooting season 

Sika England & WalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
StagsAug 1st - Apr 30thJul 1st - Oct 20thAug 1st - Apr 30th
HindsNov 1st - Mar 31stOct 21st - Feb 15thNov 1st - Mar 31st

Medal information 

To achieve a bronze medal a Japanese Sika should be a fairly even eight pointer with a span of about 40 cm, beams of about 50 cm, brown tines of about 13 cm, seconds tines of about 14 cm, and inner tines of about 6 cm. The circumference of the lower beams should be about 9 cm and the upper about 6.5 cm. However the deficiencies in one area may be counteracted by increases in others, thus still ensuring that a medal category is reached.

Links to DSUK articles –