Over the next few months, around 300 deer will be born in these parks. The season marks a vulnerable time for female deer, who hide their young in bracken and long grass to conceal them from dogs and other perceived predators.
Simon Richards, Park Manager for Richmond Park, said: “During the deer birthing season, we strongly advise that dogs are not walked in either Richmond or Bushy Parks but, if this is not possible, dogs must be on leads in all areas of the parks.
“Female deer are afraid of dogs harming their young. Concern for their newborn means they may act defensively towards dogs - they have been known to give chase and attack, even if the dog is at a distance and not acting provocatively. Dog walkers must remain vigilant, avoid areas of dense vegetation and stick to the perimeter of the park. As a dog owner myself, I know this can be frustrating, but it really is for the safety of both deer and dogs. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and we thank all our visitors for their support with these measures.”
Deer are instinctively frightened of dogs and this fear has not been helped by recent events. There have been 55 reported incidents of dogs chasing deer since August 2020 (when dogs were allowed off leads again, following last year’s deer birthing season), bringing the total number of reported incidents to 90 over the past year. However, as many incidents go unreported that figure is expected to be much higher. At least five deer have died as a result of these chases in the past year and a number of dog owners have appeared in court and been convicted for not having their dog under control.
The Royal Parks is also urging all visitors to give female deer respect, privacy and space, and not to go in search of young deer. Under no circumstance is a newborn deer to be picked up, and if visitors see one on its own, they should rest assured that its mother will be grazing nearby.
Simon Richards added: “Every year, we receive calls about ‘abandoned’ baby deer. But female deer are excellent mothers, and they are not shirking their responsibility. Instead, they are hiding their young whilst they forage for food to create the milk that they need to nourish their young. Throughout the course of the day, the mother will periodically return to suckle her newborn, but she may reject it if she picks up a human scent, so please do not touch a newborn deer under any circumstances. Even though you may think you’re doing the right thing, you will actually only cause the newborn deer severe stress and, sadly, you may cause it to be abandoned by its mother.”
Advice to dog walkers:
- Keep your dog on a lead at all times, and in all areas of the parks
- Avoid the areas shaded in orange on the maps. These are typically the main areas of bracken and long grass where newborn deer could be concealed, so it’s wise to plan your walking route in advance.
- If a deer charges, let the dog off the lead so the dog can run away.
- Consider walking your dog elsewhere.
Advice to all visitors:
- Give deer plenty of space. Always keep 50 metres away
- Avoid deer nursery areas where possible. Give female deer privacy and respect.
- Never touch a newborn deer under any circumstances, even if it’s on its own. It is not abandoned, and its mother will be grazing nearby.
To report an injury to a person, dog or deer, please contact:
Richmond Park: 0300 061 2200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bushy Park 0300 061 2250 or email email@example.com