Tue. Feb 27th, 2024
alert-–-warning-to-parkgoers-who-are-pictured-getting-dangerously-close-to-stags-during-the-perilous-mating-seasonAlert – Warning to parkgoers who are pictured getting dangerously close to stags during the perilous mating season

Amateur photographers have been warned about the dangers of rutting stags after being pictured getting within a few feet of the animals to try to take photos. 

Footage taken at Bushy Park, southwest London, shows members of the public ignoring guidance from Royal Parks to keep 160ft (50m) away and ‘always be vigilant… especially during the rutting season’. 

Runners, cyclists and dog-walkers were pictured within touching distance of the deer – which have been known to charge. 

During the rutting season in September to November, the animals – especially stags – can become hostile towards humans. 

This is because they spend a lot of this period fighting rivals, causing them to become extremely agitated. 

Visitors are advised to 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. 

Members of the public have been spotted getting dangerously close to deer in London during a very dangerous time of the year – the mating season (pictured, deer in Bushy Park)

In footage from Bushy Park, southwest London, brazen parkgoers are seen just metres away from the deer despite a strict 50metre distance rule (pictured)

Visitors were pictured standing within touching distance of the deer who have been known to charge at their aggressors (pictured, a herd of deer in Bushy Park)

It is recommended to keep a safe distance of 50metres from the animals however it has become clear this rule is either unknown or being ignored

Visitors to Bushy and Richmond Parks are told to stay 50metres away from deer, especially stags, during their mating season as they spend a lot of this period fighting rivals

ROYAL PARKS DEER SAFETY ADVICE

Keep to a minimum distance of 50m from the deer. If the male deer seem active, then visitors should stay at least 100m away.

Never getting in between two rutting deer or touch feed or photograph the animals at close range. 

Do not picnic or eat food in close proximity of the deer. If approached, cover food and close any bags, leave the food behind and move to a safe distance.  Wait for the deer to move on before returning to the picnic spot. 

Photographers must always remain 160ft (50m) away and use a long lens. 

Dog owners are advised to avoid Bushy and Richmond Parks during mating season (September-November) and birthing season (May-July). This is because deer can feel threatened by dogs. 

In the unlikely event you are threatened or charged by a deer, try and put a vehicle or substantial barrier (like a big tree) between you and the animal. 

If you have a dog, let it off the lead as they have a better chance of escaping while unrestrained and may be the reason the deer is agitated. 

Do not wave or shout at an approaching deer, instead back off slowly. 

Source: Royal Parks London 

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‘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.’

Photographer Robert Piper, 67, watched on in disbelief as parkgoers put themselves at risk by approaching the elegant yet temperamental animals.

He said: ‘The red deer are wild animals – even though they are located in one of the Royal Parks, they can be quite unpredictable.

‘The majority of the spectators in the videos were putting themselves in a high level of danger, as stags during the rutting [mating] season have been known to charge at spectators if they get too close to them.’

Mr Piper added: ‘In all of the videos, it is clear and obvious that the distance the spectators were from the animals was considerably less than 50metres.

‘There are some individuals walking by just a few metres away from a stag.

‘Quite often, a stag who may have just finished fighting is in a highly agitated and aggressive state – spectators may not realise this, and approaching them is a potential recipe for disaster.

 

During the rutting season in September-November, deer can become hostile towards people, especially stags, who have been known to charge at spectators

A group of cyclists were forced to swerve around a deer after it decided to cross the road

Parkgoers are advised to stay 50metres away from deer, especially during their mating season

A group of tourists were seen taking photos of a deer at close range in Bushy Park

‘One gentleman appeared to be sitting quite nonchalantly as two stags were about to start fighting just a few metres away.

‘The common theme in all of the videos was the extreme close proximity between the spectators and animals, especially at a time of the year when the stags are potentially at their most aggressive and dangerous.’

Herds of red and fallow deer have been grazing in the Royal Parks since the 1600s and have played a key role in shaping the landscape. 

Visitors are required to remain 50metres away from deer at all times and never attempt to touch, feed or photograph the animals at close range. 

Parkgoers should remain 100metres away if the male deer seem active.  

Dog owners are advised to avoid Bushy and Richmond parks during mating season (September-November) and birthing season (May-July). 

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