From the Hur Herald:
Dustin Hardbarger of Brohard-Leading Creek shot and killed a male Sika deer in his yard, but not before consulting with game officials.
WV-DNR came out to confirm that it was in fact a Sika, “The officer said that the animals had escaped from a pen in Ohio and there is an open season on them to eradicate the deer before they get established.”
The Sika have been sighted in Wood, Ritchie, and now Calhoun Counties.
Sika deer are native to East Asia. They are actually quite closely related to the wapiti (“elk”) of North America, which are also spreading into West Virginia. Sika deer can hybridize with our “elk,” producing what are called “silk deer” or Sika grande. Sika deer are thought to resemble the ancestral Cervus deer from which all these species evolved.
Virginia and Maryland have established populations of sika, but West Virginia really doesn’t have established populations. This is actually the first I’ve ever heard of one in this state, though I’m sure there have been a few spotted over the years. They are very commonly kept at private game farms for canned hunting purposes.
And considering how far away from Ohio this particular one was killed, I would say the chances of them becoming established here are fairly high.
There are just too many remote areas for them to hide, and I don’t think everyone is aware that this sort of deer is a different species.
I can imagine that some landowners would want to protect the big trophy bucks, even if they are invasive species.
So the number of confirmed deer species in West Virginia is at now at 3: White-tailed deer, elk/wapiti, and now sika.
Are Reeves’s muntjac or fallow deer next?