On a world scale, there is considerable conservation concern for the Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis). The species was introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire, England at the end of the nineteenth century. It bred well and was moved to other collections. Escapes and releases resulted in the current wild population, which occurs primarily in eastern England, but probably have the potential to spread over much of lowland southern Britain.
So far its impacts on native biodiversity and agriculture have been negligible though Chinese Water Deer are increasingly implicated in road traffic accidents. However , following the principles of the Bern Convention, the UK Government is already considering risk management options to prevent further spread of Chinese Water deer (as a non-native species) and to prevent deliberate introductions outside the current distributional range.
On balance, social benefits occur from the presence of Chinese Water Deer. Members of the public generally enjoy seeing deer, and hunters are provided with an additional quarry and trophy species, and, in some cases, a source of income. In addition we must consider that the water deer is declining rapidly in its native range and is classified as "Vulnerable". The UK now hosts a significant and increasing proportion of the world population; if current trends continue, there will soon be more water deer in Britain than in China. Thus future management of the UK populations should be seen in a global , as well as a purely domestic context.
The Chinese Water Deer Foundation has been established to further the study of the species and its protection on a global scale.