FALLOW deer are returning to woods near Leeds Castle after decades of absence.
Local walkers have started to pick up tracks left by the secretive animal in woods near Kingswood and Broomfield villages in recent weeks.
One, regular rambler Neill Johnston, 48, said he started to spot prints three weeks ago near Broomfield.
The Leeds resident said: "The prints are small but quite distinctive. I first started picking them up in numbers last month but I’ve yet to see one.
“By reputation they’re shy and will get offside very quickly once they know you are there.
I have been walking around these woods for more than ten years and I have never come close to seeing a deer but they’re definitely about."
Fellow Leeds resident Audrey Browne remembers a time, decades ago, when deer were plentiful in woodland around the village where she grew up.
She added: "They were a common sight. It is years since I have seen one but I understand from people in the area that about half a dozen or so are coming into the area from the Chegworth direction."
Mr Johnston, who has lived in Leeds for 13 years, said he spotted prints as far away as the Lenham Road, outside Kingswood.
There are wild deer in significant numbers Challock, near Ashford, while there are herds of fallow in a publicly accessible 1,000 acre site at Knole Park, near Sevenoaks.