The deer in Richmond Park and Bushy Park are wild animals and can be unpredictable. Our parks are nature reserves and the herds of wild deer roam freely. Be aware of your surroundings, especially during the rutting season (September-November) and birthing season (May-July).
For your safety, please keep at least 50 metres away from the deer at all times and don’t touch, feed or attempt to photograph the deer at close range.
By feeding deer you are teaching them to approach humans for food which is dangerous for all visitors. Bushy and Richmond Parks provide ample natural food for the deer which is suited to their nutritional needs. Deer feed on grass, leaves and shoots of trees, and other woody plants. During autumn they feast on chestnuts and acorns too. Feeding deer is in breach of our park regulations and could result in a verbal or formal warning from the police, and even prosecution.
Safety advice for photographers
During the rutting season there is particular interest in the deer. During this time, photographers have been witnessed surrounding deer which can interfere with the course of nature and be very stressful for the deer.
Deer are wild animals and their space must be respected. Always keep a minimum of 50 metres away and use a long lens.
For information on how to safely photograph deer please read the British Deer Society's Code of Conduct.
Safety advice for dog walkers
Deer can feel threatened by dogs even over long distances and when the dog is not behaving in a provocative manner. This is particularly true during the rutting (September-November) and the birthing (May-July) seasons. We recommend walking your dog outside the park at these times.
Deer birthing season 2021
From 4 May-2 August 2021 it will be compulsory to have your dog on a lead in all areas of the park. This is to protect both dogs and deer during deer birthing season. Dog walkers should stick to the perimeter of the park and avoid deer birthing areas (typically areas of long grass and bracken). If a deer does charge, dog walkers are advised to let the dog off the lead, so the dog can run away from danger.
Owners of dogs, who chase wildlife in the parks, including deer, could face criminal prosecution. If you witness a dog chasing a deer contact the on-call police officers for Bushy and Richmond Parks via 07920586546.
Find out more about Dogs in the Royal Parks [PDF 950.16kB].
Advice if you are approached by deer
In the unlikely event you are threatened or charged by a deer, try to put a vehicle or a substantial barrier (like a big tree) between yourself and the animal. If you have a dog, let it off the lead. The dog will be more capable of escaping when unrestrained, and may actually be the reason that the deer has become agitated in the first place
If you find a deer advancing towards you, do not shout or wave at it. Back off slowly if possible, the deer may be satisfied you have left its personal zone.
Do not picnic or eat food in close proximity to deer. Despite numerous signs warning people not to, some visitors continue to feed deer, even though it is unnecessary, dangerous and in breach of our park regulations. This has resulted in the deer, particularly the fallow deer, learning to approach people in search of food. However, as deer are wild and unpredictable animals this sometimes can result in unfortunate incidents.