The number of deer in the Shir Ahmad Animal Sanctuary has fallen to 360 from close to 3.000 head in 2009.
Mohammadali Amarlo, the head of the Sabzevar Department of the Environment, told Mehr News on Saturday November 7 that repeated drought, the loss of grazing fields through unregulated stock herding, and the loss of habitat due to various developments in the region are having disastrous effects on the deer population.
Shir Ahmad is the second-largest animal sanctuary for deer in Iran after the Moteh region in Isfahan.
The Environment Department chief said more than 20 sheep herds graze in the region, forcing the deer to move out of their habitat. Moving away from their natural surroundings, according to Amarlo, leaves the deer vulnerable to new dangers such as poachers and other human threats.
Reports indicate that the Department of the Environment does not have the funds to employ sufficient rangers to adequately protect the wildlife in animal sanctuaries.