Parents warned wild deer are 'not Disney creatures' in rutting season safety appeal

8 October 2019, 13:16

Two rutting deer lock antlers in Richmond Park
Two rutting deer lock antlers in Richmond Park. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Parents have been warned that wild deer are “not Disney creatures” in an appeal to keep children away from stags during the rutting season.

The Royal Parks said the rise in popularity of social media and smartphone use has led to people taking unacceptable risks in Bushy and Richmond Parks, south west London.

They recommend keeping at least 50 metres from the rutting animals, which can become aggressive if approached.

The breeding season began at the end of September, in which male deer compete for breeding rights until November.

Red stags and Fallow bucks roar and clash antlers in a bid to fight off rivals and attract as many females as possible.

Several people have been injured by the deer in recent years, with a young girl hurt last year while being photographed next to a rutting stag in Bushy Park.

A red deer stag bellows during the breeding season in Richmond Park
A red deer stag bellows during the breeding season in Richmond Park. Picture: PA

The previous year, a visitor was hospitalised after suffering injuries from a male deer in Richmond Park.

Adam Curtis, Assistant Park Manager for Richmond Park, said: “These incidents almost exclusively happen when people ignore our 50-metre rule and get too close.

“You wouldn’t go on safari and take a selfie with a lion; the same logic should apply here.

“My advice is to be inconspicuous, and if you want to see rutting deer in action then take binoculars.”

Over a thousand wild deer live in Richmond and Bushy Parks.

Dog owners are advised to walk their dogs elsewhere, as attacks on dogs are not uncommon at this time of year.

Mr Curtis added: “Approaching wild deer at any time of year is unwise but during rutting season it’s downright dangerous.

“Putting yourself, child or dog near a 25 stone stag with sharp antlers, is extremely risky.

“Being hit by a stag running at full speed of 30 miles an hour is the equivalent of being mown down by a motorbike.”