Wild deer in Britain should be hunted for venison to drastically reduce their populations and support the re-emergence of our native woodland birds, according to an academic at The University of Nottingham.

It comes after a new study in the 'Journal of Applied Ecology' suggests huge deer populations in England are damaging the natural habitat which many ground-nesting woodland birds require.

Dr Markus Eichhorn in the University's School of Life Sciences, an expert in ecology, said:

"Deer populations are at extraordinarily high levels due to a combination of factors including the absence of large predators, a decline in hunting and the autumn sowing of crops that produce winter food for foraging animals.

Dr Markus Eichhorn.

The experts at Nottingham were commissioned by the Government department Defra in 2008 following a call to study the causes behind the decline of woodland birds such as the nightingale, marsh tit, willow tit and lesser spotted woodpecker in the UK.

Dr Eichhorn set out to establish implications for woodlands of large deer populations, including indigenous species of Roe and Red deer, as well as later Fallow deer which were introduced by the Normans and Reeves' muntjac.

Chinese water deer and Sika deer also arrived on our shores in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.