This advice follows the publication of a video, taken by a member of the public, that shows photographers, many with long lenses, dangerously close to stags in Bushy Park, London. In the footage one resting stag with sharp antlers, is so disturbed by the photographers’ proximity, that it suddenly stands up and moves away.
The rutting (breeding) season is underway, in which male deer compete for breeding rights from now until 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 as possible.
Phil Edwards, Bushy Park Manager commented on the video 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.
“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.”
During the rut, The Royal Parks is urging people to take responsibility for their own safety by:
- Keeping a minimum distance of 50 metres away. The more space the better, especially during rutting season. If visitors want a better view, they should bring binoculars
- Keeping dogs on leads or walking them elsewhere
- Abiding by the British Deer Society’s Code of Conduct.
- Never getting in between two rutting deer
Over the years, there have been incidents where visitors have suffered injuries from rutting deer that could have been avoided. In 2018, a young girl who was being photographed next to a rutting stag was injured in Bushy Park, and in the previous year a visitor was hospitalised after suffering injuries from a male deer in Richmond Park. All incidents almost exclusively happen when people get closer than the recommended 50 metres.
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.”
To read more about the deer rut in Bushy and Richmond Parks, and how you can keep yourself out of the action read: : 12 things you should know about the deer rutting season - Richmond Park; Bushy Park - The Royal Parks
Notes to editors
Video credit: Stephen Darlington
For further information please visit: www.royalparks.org.uk.
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About The Royal Parks
The Royal Parks is the charity that exists to make sure London’s eight historic royal parks will always be there to enrich the lives of local residents and visitors to London.
The charity looks after eight of London’s largest open spaces: Hyde Park, The Green Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, St James’s Park, Bushy Park, The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, and Kensington Gardens, plus Brompton Cemetery and Victoria Tower Gardens.
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