Oh deer: keeping animals in Ogre forest proves too costly

“Riga Forests” deer garden has proven financially unviable. The animals are gradually transported to a deer farm in Vidzeme, but in the future, an environmental education center will be established instead of the garden, Latvian Radio reported on February 29.

The “Rīga Forests” deer garden is located in the Tīnūži Parish of Ogre Municipality behind a high gate in a fenced area of 100 hectares of forest. A total of 48 deer are currently sold and delivered to the new owner. While deer are not visible in the large area at midday, local government company spokeswoman Ieva Bērziņa says there are still males left in the garden that could be dangerous to transport right now. They will therefore be transported to their new home in the spring.

CCTV cameras show there are still about 10 deer here - 5 or 6 males and the rest are females and fawns.

“Waiting for the bulls to drop their antlers. This will happen in March and then we'll see how we can arrange this deer relocation next,“ says Bērziņa.

“Riga Forests” has managed the deer garden since 2008. Over many years, the herd was not developed, meaning too few deer were in the paddock to form high-value genetic material, says Bērziņa.

Maintenance of the deer garden has cost Riga forests 40 thousand euros a year. Several failed auctions have previously been held, but now the animals have been sold to a farm in Vidzeme.

“It has been a mistake, admittedly, to create this deer garden here. The total value of the herd is currently less than €7,000, but the largest amount is made up of maintenance and the people who serve the deer garden. In total, about half a million have been spent in these years,” Berzina says. The area is also where there was previously no infrastructure.

“It was all a very expensive pleasure for the company to develop the area,” she adds.

From now on, it is planned to develop this wilderness forest area as an environmental education center. The forest will not be cut.

“There's a very beautiful forest of spruce and pine trees, there's plenty of that area in the company, but we've specifically devoted this one to environmental education, where we tell stories of nature, animals, and everything you can see in the forests of Rīga vicinity. The primary thing for us was to do the main work – to rid this area of deer, which will be done this year,” Bērziņa says.

Population group objects – deer should be released into the wild

Meanwhile, the Ogre residents support group has repeatedly opposed the plans of “Riga Forests” to abolish the deer garden, and one and a half thousand signatures were collected against the plan on the portal manabalss.lv. According to these residents, the compromise would be the release of animals into the wild, as this has been done with some in previous years. “Riga Forests” did not implement this scenario due to the objections of the State Forest Service, as it is not known how this would affect the wild population


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