Red Deer are important shapers of the landscape, from lowland valleys to open alpine moorland. By grazing grasses and young trees, they ensure a healthy structure to both the woodland and grassland. In autumn, stags start ‘rutting’, a competition between the males to claim the biggest harem of females to then mate with. This begins with impressive, deep roaring which can be heard echoing for kilometres around, in order to intimidate other nearby males. If this is not sufficient then the stags will fight, clashing their huge antlers and trying to push back the competitor.
The Red Deer is arguably one of the most historically significant animals in Europe. It has been engrained in many cultures, not only as a source of food, but also for clothing, tools and trade even in the present day. Teams of Red Deer would pull coaches in Roman ceremonial processions, ornaments and tools from antlers have been found in Dacian archaeological sites and illustrations of these animals have been found in some of the oldest prehistoric cave paintings.
Nowadays, Red Deer are more known as hunting trophies. Since the disappearance of their natural predators (wolves and bears) across much of Europe, humans are those now responsible for controlling their population. This is now a big business in many places and people will pay a lot of money to stalk and shoot a big stag, which can weigh as much as 250kg. This is becoming popular in the Carpathians, despite the fact that their natural predators still exist here and keep their numbers balanced.