Royal Parks Issue Warning Over Rutting Deer

Photographers spotted dangerously close to stags

Photographers Getting Too Close To Deer.Photographers Getting Too Close To Deer. Picture: Stephen Darlington

Richmond and Bushy Park visitors are being warned to keep at least 50 metres away from deer during mating season.

It comes as photographers have been spotted dangerously close to stags in London’s Bushy Park and in the past people have been hospitalised by deer.

During deer mating season – known as rutting season – the deer can become unpredictable and dangerous while they compete for female attention until the season ends in November.

Red stags and fallow bucks, flooded with testosterone and adrenaline, roar and clash antlers in a bid to fight off rivals and attract as many hinds and does – female deer – as possible.

Over the years, there have been incidents where visitors have suffered injuries from rutting deer.

In 2018, a young girl who was being photographed next to a rutting stag and was injured in Bushy Park. In 2017, a visitor was hospitalised after suffering injuries from a male deer in Richmond Park.

Photographers Too Close To Rutting Deer Sue Lindenberg
Photographers Too Close To Rutting Deer. Picture: Sue Lindenberg

Advice by The Royal Parks is:

  • Stay at least 50 metres away from deer and use binoculars if you want to see them closely
  • Keep your dogs on leads or walk them elsewhere
  • Never get in between two rutting deer
  • Abide by the British Deer Society’s Code of Conduct.

Phil Edwards, Bushy Park manager, said: “Of course it’s disrespectful to get this close to wild animals, however, what I really struggle to understand is why these photographers are taking such obvious risks with their own safety.

“These animals are wild and therefore unpredictable, and during the rut stags and bucks are pumped full of testosterone.

“Furthermore, they can weigh upwards of 25 stone and travel up to 30mph, so getting hit by one is the equivalent of being mown down by a motorbike.”

He added: “Richmond and Bushy Parks are very special because the wild deer roam freely, and animal lovers can observe them behaving naturally from a distance.

“What’s not a pretty picture is seeing these majestic animals followed, cornered, sometimes even enticed so that people can get the ‘perfect’ shot of them. Keep Wildlife Wild by leaving them alone, and just give them a bit of respect.”

Charles Smith-Jones, technical adviser for the British Deer Society said, “No matter how relaxed park deer may seem about human presence, never forget that they are wild animals.

“Please give them plenty of space and enjoy the spectacle of the rut from a sensible distance.

“This is not just to avoid disturbing them at this important part of the deer year but is very much for your own safety as well.”

James Mayer - Local Democracy Reporter

October 8, 2021