Warning to Avoid Deer in Richmond Park this Autumn

Rutting season increases risk to visitors who get too close

Two rutting deers. Picture: Adam Masterton AM Nature Photography

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September 21, 2023

The Royal Parks has issued a warning to visitors to Richmond Park to steer clear of deer during the rutting season.

During autumn, from September to early November, male deer will roar and clash antlers in a bid to fight off rivals and attract as many females as possible to mate with.

During this time, visitors to Richmond Park, as well as Bushy Park, are advised to be extra vigilant and stay well away from the deer, as the stags are pumped full of testosterone, can weigh over 25 stone and reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. They may also become more active during the day, as they search for mates.

In 2022, there were 14 incidents in Richmond Park with deer reported to the Royal Parks up from 9 in 2021 and 6 in 2020.

It is therefore strongly suggested that you stay at least 50 metres away from any deer in the park and keep dogs on a lead when walking in the vicinity of herds as well as abiding by the British Deer Society’s Code of Conduct when photographing deer.

The mating season attracts photographers from across country, and they too are being urged to give the deer respect and space and reminded that the 50 metre rule also applies to them.

Volunteer rangers, identifiable by their bright orange jackets, will be issuing safety advice to visitors in both parks, explaining the physical and behavioural changes that the deer are experiencing during the rut and how people can keep themselves and their families safe.

“Visitors will notice a significant change in the deer from mid-September,” explains Bill Swan, Bushy Park’s Assistant Park Manager. “The first obvious change is the sound of deer bellowing in the parks as a warning to their rivals. Soon enough, the dominant male deer will start to round up the females, and fighting with other deer may ensue in a bid to hold onto their harems.

“Although this all sounds incredibly exciting and a sight to behold, visitors need to be extremely vigilant, otherwise they could risk severe injury. It’s important to understand that deer may seem relaxed and subdued one minute, and then the next start suddenly chasing and fighting each other. Please don’t risk your safety, and that of children, by getting in the middle of the action. Keep your distance, and bring binoculars if you want a closer look.”

To report an injury to a dog or a deer, contact Richmond Park: 0300 061 2200 or email richmond@royalparks.org.uk.

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