Dog walkers in Richmond and Bushy Parks are being urged to take extra care during the deer birthing season (May-July).
In late May the deer give birth to their young. The Red hinds produce calves, and the Fallow does produce fawns. The young are not ready to follow their mothers in the herd for one or two weeks.
Until then, they lie hidden in deep grass or bracken. Their mothers graze in the vicinity, returning at intervals to groom and suckle them. At this stage the young are very vulnerable to disturbance from humans or attack by dogs and is when the mothers can be very defensive. So please: –
- Do not touch very young deer as it may result in them being abandoned by their mothers and thus failing to survive.
- Stay clear from females – we recommend 50m and if you notice a lone female on ‘high alert’ it would reduce her anxiety to retrace your route and give her a wide berth.
- Dog walkers are advised to walk away from the Park, or if you choose to walk in the Park please stay clear of the remote quiet places where the deer are more likely to have young and stay on the busier areas that are generally at the edge of the Park.
All park users are advised to keep at least 50m away from deer, never get in between two deer and never feed or photograph the deer at close range.
At this time of year, dog walkers are advised to stay away from the parks. If using the parks they should:
- keep their dogs on a lead at all times;
- let go of the lead if pursued by a deer. The deer are less likely to charge if the dog runs away from them; and
- stay clear of nursery areas, which will be identified by notices placed around the parks.
Richmond Park manager Simon Richards said:
"Deer are wild animals and can behave unpredictably. Deer can feel threatened by dogs even over long distances and when the dog is not behaving in a provocative manner. We ask dog walkers to be particularly vigilant and keep dogs on a lead between now and the end of July."
Deer have roamed freely in the Royal Parks since 1529 when the parks were Royal hunting grounds. Grazing by red and fallow deer shapes the landscape of the parks and helps to maintain grasslands. Deer grazing also prevents tree seedlings from growing, keeping the grassland open.
To report an injury to a dog or a deer, please contact:
Richmond Park: 0300 061 2200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org