The biggest attraction at Jægersborg Dyrehave is the deer. Hardly anywhere else in the world is it possible to get so close to wild red deer, fallow deer and sika deer, even when they are in rut, but it is important that you respect them as wild animals, and do not feed them so they become tame and therefore become a danger to visitors.
It was King Frederik III (1648-70), who in 1669 demolished much of the village of Stokkerup, had a solid fence constructed around the land and moved the red and fallow deer behind the fence so that he could hunt in his own deer park. Later, his son, Christian V (1670-99), expanded the park and made it suitable for parforce hunting. (For more information go to The History of Dyrehaven).
There was already a population of red deer and fallow deer in the area, but a massive beat flushed game from all over Northern Zealand behind the fencing, and when parforce hunting had impaired the population, red deer from Bornholm, Jutland and Holstein were also introduced to Dyrehaven. Not in order to breed, but for hunting. Many of the deer died of natural causes shortly after being released. In 1737, Christian VI received 12 white red deer from Elector August of Saxony. The existing white red deer in Dyrehaven are descendants of these. The population of white deer is kept down to 15-20% of the total population. Many of the excess animals are exported. Dyrehaven’s red deer are very popular throughout the world, and some of them are exported as far away as to New-Zealand. Neither Dyrehaven’s white red deer nor the fallow deer are albinos. They have grey snouts and muzzles and grey-blue eyes.
There are currently about 300 red deer and 1,600 fallow deer in Dyrehaven. Generally speaking they all descend from the same original animals. The forest is also the home of 100 sika deer; an Asian species introduced in 1900. The deer move in flocks on the Eremitagesletten plain. For the fallow deer, flocks can consist of up to several hundred animals. (For more information about the different species, go to The Animals and Plants of Dyrehaven).
The deer have shaped the open landscape and the unobstructed views in Dyrehaven by biting away all the leaves, shoots, small trees and plants everything they can reach. Each year, a certain number of animals are culled to sustain the balance and to keep the population healthy, although live animals are also exported. You can see how Dyrehaven would look without the deer in the enclosure at Fortunens Indelukke, where the deer cannot enter.
(For more information about deer, go to The Course of the Year in Dyrehaven).