Czech deer still avoid Iron Curtain

Deer near the town of Harrachov, Czech Republic - 8 April 2014 The red deer were tracked via GPS-equipped collars that sent data to computers

The Iron Curtain fell 25 years ago, but it seems that nobody told the deer.

A new study has found that a quarter of a century on, red deer on the border between the Czech Republic and old West Germany still do not cross the divide.

After tracking 300 deer, researchers said the animals are intent on maintaining the old boundaries.

One of the scientists involved told the BBC the deer are not ideological, "they are just very conservative in their habits."

During the Cold War, electric fences made the Czech-German boundary impossible to pass.

Czechoslovakia, where the Communists took power in 1948, had three parallel electrified fences, patrolled by heavily armed guards.

Nearly 500 people were killed when they attempted to escape.

A reconstruction of the Iron Curtain's electrified fence in the Sumava National Park, Czech Republic - 8 April 2014 This reconstruction in the Sumava National Park in the Czech Republic shows the Iron Curtain's electrified fence

The researchers followed the movement of the 300 Czech and German deer via GPS-equipped collars, which sent data to computers.

Biologist Pavel Sustr, who led the seven-year project, said that even though the area is now forest and open land with no barrier, the deer still stick to their Czech or Bavarian sides.

"It was fascinating to realise for the first time that anything like that is possible," Mr Sustr said. "But the border still plays a role for them and separates the two populations."

He said that was remarkable because the average life expectancy for deer is 15 years and none living now would have encountered the barrier.

Scientists believe that fawns tend to follow mothers for the first year of their lives and develop a pattern in their movements, so the same area remains the habitat for each new generation.

More on This Story

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

  • Baby in boxStrange case

    The remarkable appeal of the Finnish baby boxes

  • WW1 gas mask being demonstratedTrench terror

    Did the soldiers of WW1 have an irrational fear of poison gas?

  • Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention 7 November 2012Aura of a loser?

    Mitt Romney looked presidential but could never pull it off

  • A woman holds up a feminist sign.PC virus

    Is liberal speech policing out of control?

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ReadingBest books

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten books you should read in February


  • A car being driven by Cruise Automation technologyClick Watch

    The tech which could allow any car with an automatic gearbox to become self-driving

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.