More than 200 deer (fawns and calves) are born every year in Bushy and Richmond Parks between May and July. Female deer protect their young by hiding them in dense cover such as bracken or long grass for a few weeks after their birth. The mother will often stand nearby, and if a dog or a human gets too close to their newborn they may act defensively.
Visitors to Bushy and Richmond Parks are being warned to walk their dogs in the parks at their own risk, and follow three simple steps:
- keep dogs on leads at all times;
- steer clear of remote parts of the park where deer are more likely to have their young; and
- stick to busier paths that are generally at the edge of the park.
Adam Curtis, Park Manger for Richmond Park said: "It is important that we keep in mind that deer are wild, strong animals that can behave unpredictably. Deer can feel threatened by dogs even over long distances and when the dog is not behaving in a provocative manner.
“People should consider exercising their dogs outside of these parks during this time because we are aware of incidents in which a dog was on a lead and under control, but the deer still charged.”
If a deer does charge, dog walkers are advised to let go of the lead so the dog can run away from danger. In this circumstance the deer is very unlikely to give chase, they simply want the dog to be a safe distance from their young.
Newborns are born scentless and immobile; therefore hiding a fawn or calf for the first few weeks of their life is the best way a mother can protect them from predators. Although no natural deer predators exist in Richmond and Bushy Parks, dogs have been observed trying to play with or retrieve baby deer, and as a result causing them severe harm and sometimes fatally injuring them.
The Royal Parks also urge that members of the public do not approach or touch very young deer as it may result in them being abandoned by their mothers and failing to survive.
More than 600 deer roam freely through Richmond Park, with over 300 in Bushy Park. Throughout the year, visitors are advised to:
- always keep at least 50m from deer
- never touch or feed the deer
- avoid getting in-between two deer
- never photograph the deer at close range. Use a long lens
To report an injury to a human, dog or a deer, please contact: