The Rare Black Roe Deer of Europe

The Black Roe deer “Der Schwarze Geist”, which means The Black Ghost have been known since the year 980 AD. According to records of that time the bishop of Minden and Milo every single year he received a number of Black Roe deer for his kitchen.

The Black Roe deer “Der Schwarze Geist”, which means The Black Ghost have been known since the year 980 AD. According to records of that time the bishop of Minden and Milo every single year he received a number of these diminutive deer for his kitchen.

The current population of Black Roe deer were imported and introduced in Germany by Count Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe in the 16th century. Those animals came from either Portugal or Spain. Since a small population of Black Roe deer exists in northwestern Spain; the animals probably came from there.

Black Roe deer are now fairly common in Germany.

The habitat includes Halle but does not exist east of river Elben and spreads out north to Hamburg. In northwest it extends to the North Sea coast and further into the north eastern part of Holland. Towards the south the they habitat stops at Magdeburg, Dortmund and Hannover. During World War I, Emperor Wilhelm II asked a German soldier where he came from. The soldier answered his homestead was Haste. The emperor gladly replied, “It is where the Black Roe deer exists.”

The biggest number were found in the forest of Haster close to Hannover in 1933 where about 90% of the animals were black as normal colored deer were shot aiming at establishing a pure black population. German sources estimate the number of black animals to be approximately 20% of the German population.

Our guide does not agree. In his opinion no more than 5% of the deer in Northern Germany are black. This phenomenon is called melanism and is well known among Fallow deer, Green pheasant, panther and squirrel.

From “Black Ghost from the Devil’s Moore” by Henning Korvel.

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