Bushy Park deer warning

NewsOver the last week or so, many park users have experienced close encounters with at least one deer in Bushy Park – some may have unknowingly got too close at this particularly dangerous time of year, but others have mentioned being chased and charged at despite keeping their distance.

Even dogs on the lead are at risk and sadly this week, one puppy was kicked and another was crushed & killed by a deer that believed it was defending its young. If all the reports are relating to the same animal, it has been acting in this aggressive fashion in a triangle between Teddington Gate, Sandy Lane and also spotted by Hampton Court gate.

Each year the deer give birth in the shaded areas above before the bracken growth is high – this cover is important to the deer that they use it to hide their young. The lack of shelter will mean an anxious period for the mothers. Even if you haven’t experienced problems with your dog being near the deer previously, the deer tend to react badly to dogs during the birthing season.

[Update] The increased incidents involving deer have been mentioned in the press – Richmond & Twickenham Times and Telegraph.

[Update] Royal Parks have now published a news item for Bushy Park with updated advice including: “We advise that dog walkers avoid deer, particularly in the nursery areas and keep their dogs on a lead elsewhere. There are clear deer warning signs in the parks providing deer advice. If you are approached we recommend that you retrace your steps. Dog owners might wish to consider walking elsewhere for the next few weeks.

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0 thoughts on “Bushy Park deer warning

  • 25th May 2012 at 22:24
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    Clearly this park is the home of the deer and the ppl and dogs are the intruders, ppl need to be more responsible and considerate about keeping their dogs right out of the way. Stop blaming the deer!

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  • 26th May 2012 at 08:05
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    It was our puppy that was killed this week. We are deeply distressed by the incident and find your comments wholly inappropriate Lesley. Our dogs were on a lead and being walked on a path in a thoroughly responsible manner. A deer came running out of the grass from some 100 yards to attack them and it was over almost as soon as it had begun.

    We don’t blame the deer – but our six month old puppy – innocent to the world as a puppy could be – is dead through no fault of his or our making.

    We were extremely fortunate that it was just our puppy that died and no human fatality arose too. Do we need that to occur before the park takes such attacks seriously.

    I am not suggesting the park should be closed or the deer be removed but I believe better signage within the park is called for at this time of year and for particularly aggressive deer to be controlled.

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    • 26th May 2012 at 12:47
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      So sorry Ivan, this must be very upsetting for you. I wanted however to post this news to raise awareness of the issues in the park that occur at certain time of the year. Thank you for your comment & clarification.

      I have personally written to Royal Parks about having more obvious warning signs and clearer indications of how dangerous the deer can be – most people simply aren’t aware and just think they are as friendly now as they at other times of the year.

      Royal Parks & the Police that cover the park are very quiet about deer attacks and I have never had any information back from them or the police about how often they happen despite hearing of near misses each year and also people being charged from a distance & gored to the point of time spent in hospital. Despite this, no additional action has been taken to make park users more aware of the dangers or this particular deer’s behaviour.

      Lesley, I have removed your comment about the deer cull because it’s not related.

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    • 31st May 2012 at 16:54
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      Dear Ivan. I am so so sorry to hear about what happened to your puppy. It must be incredibly upsetting for you. A deer also tried to attack my dog and I last week when we went through the small wood not too far from Sandy Lane Gate. My dog (a small west highland) was on the lead and the deer rushed over from about 25+m away and then confronted us and repeatedly tried to charge at us. It was VERY frightening, as it wouldn’t back off, and to keep it at bay I had to scream repeatedly at it at the top of my voice and eventually back away, as every time I turned round it tried to charge. I think it is really terrible that the park are not putting up more warnings about this. No dogs should be killed in what is an urban park. The deers and the people/dogs are all now users of what is a constructed park in which deer are farmed – not truly wild animals – and a system needs to be put in place in which all the park’s users are safe. I am not sure that the larger red deer seem to be able to live harmoniously with human users in what is now also a recreational park. Or I think it at least needs to be researched and the park officials need to be much more open, and reacting to, the incidents that have been occurring. Dogs are family members to many people and their injury or death can be very distressing.

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    • 8th June 2012 at 16:32
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      Ivan I cannot imagine how awful this must have been for you – especially as you acted responsibly as instructed around the deer. I have had a similar experience with the red male deer only during rutting/culling time it pinned both the dog and I up against the wall. Luckily at the time I was able to kick it away but I was petrified and didn’t go back into the park for a very long time. These types of stories are heard every year since I have been going into Bushy Park and nothing is ever done about it. I don’t want to get into a big debate but maybe castration is a good idea; keep the bracken high with notices not to go into those areas or at least at your own risk. One day it will be a child then they may consider doing something about it. My heart goes out to you.

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  • 26th May 2012 at 11:21
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    those poor dogs 🙁 , i imagine their owners are distraught and very angry, i would be livid if i was walking my dog and it was attacked or killed by a deer

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  • 26th May 2012 at 11:23
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    looks like a nice park, would have considered visiting but if there are dangerous deer nearby don’t think i will bother

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  • 26th May 2012 at 19:36
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    The deer cull is very much related since this is just the sort of demonising of the deer that leads to ppl supporting the cull! I am sorry a puppy died but it will not be brought back by giving the deer the death penalty.

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  • 26th May 2012 at 19:50
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    The general public don’t decide if the cull goes ahead or not and any “demonising” won’t affect it either way.

    Park rangers have in-depth experience with animal health and ecosystem behaviour to decide how many deer need to be culled each year to maintain the population and ensure it doesn’t develop issues that will threaten its very existence.

    If you step back for a second, you will realise that this article and comments from the person affected are stating is that everyone should stay well away from the deer at this time of the year – this isn’t related to the cull.

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  • 28th May 2012 at 09:00
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    The Royal Parks has a board of directors which does NOT include a wildlife or ecology expert within their number – even the Friends of Bushy Park (which supports the cull) has raised concerns about this lack of relevant expert input on the board. A relevant expert might be able to remind them that deer will (like any other wildlife) find their own balance of population numbers within the area they occupy, depending on space and food available.
    The Royal Parks are too arrogant to even take into consideration the feelings of the public about the cull!

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    • 30th May 2012 at 12:49
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      Official response from FBHP chair:

      It is, of course, very sad when a dog is killed in the park by a deer. Warning notices regarding the deer behaviour are at every gate and car park. Sometimes a lone female deer will attack from a long way off. FBHP support the Royal Parks in their advice to avoid certain areas of the park during this time of year, and always keep dogs on leads whenever there are deer in the distance. This time of year when the young are being born is a very stressful time for the hinds and does. The bracken is not very high this year, so there is less cover for the mothers to leave their young. Deer are wild animals and the park is their home. We humans have to be aware of that and take great care that we leave the deer with enough space, so that they don’t feel the need to attack. Female deer naturally regard dogs as predators and defend their precious young accordingly.

      FBHP support The Royal Parks in the way they manage the deer. It is a fallacy to say that the deer will find their natural level and will produce no more young. The deer now have no natural predators. They are contained within a walled park where there is only enough food to sustain a certain number of deer. There are 350 deer in Bushy and they are healthy because they are reduced in numbers each year, so that there is enough food and territory to go round for 350 deer. No one likes to see animals killed, but if the alternative is that they get diseases and starve to death, the humane way of dealing with this is to cull. It is not practical to move excess deer to alternative locations. The places are very limited in number and cause the deer great distress. Deer have actually died from stress while being moved in the past. Hormone birth control methods cannot be used within the circumstance of the Bushy Park deer herd.

      FBHP’s aims are to help care for and enhance the park for everyone and that includes the flora and fauna as well as the public who enjoy this wonderful parkland. A great part of that enjoyment is the deer herds, and they need to be cared for and kept safe as do the users of the park

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  • 30th May 2012 at 10:55
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    I’ve been using the park for walking my dig for a year now. This last few weeks have been very difficult. I would consider myself a responsible owner, my dog is always on a flexible lead and I always maintain a very healthy distance from the deer soas not to distress them. My dog has no interest in the deer, only rabbits. In the last week I’ve been charged at twice and I’ve had a herd of deer run across a field to chase me. My dog was kicked by a deer despite my efforts to leave the area. The deer are very aggressive at the moment, and I’ve heard a story about a young deer being mauled by a dog.

    I don’t agree with animal cruelty, however a cull is necessary due to a complete lack of predators in the park. Natural ways of controlling populations will result in starvation and significant habitat destruction. Have you seen the damage a stag does to a tree when marking his territory? Ever wondered why the trees have protection around them?

    I noted earlier this year there wasn’t sufficient food for the deer with the population and the rangers had to supplement their food with hay.
    Supplying food isn’t the answer, a cull (as unpleasant as it is) is.

    Regarding the attacks, I’m going to avoid the park for a few weeks until the bracken has grown enough to provide cover. I thing other dog owners should consider doing the same. It’s not the deer’s fault, they are protecting their families much as anyone else would. They don’t have recourse to language, courts or law, they can only use physical force.

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    • 30th May 2012 at 13:26
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      Thanks Steve – sounds sensible to avoid the park at the moment until the deer don’t feel so threatened by dogs. Interesting about hay being put down, I wonder if this is related to the drought conditions or just general food supply.

      I checked out the general deer warning signs last night and although they mention to not approach the deer particularly during birthing/rutting seasons, they don’t say at all that park users and particularly those with dogs are at risk from being charged even when stay well away from deer.

      I personally believe there should be more stark warnings particularly around May with information about what attacks could happen – dog walkers should know of the risks so they can decide for themselves where they should visit in the park (if at all).

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      • 31st May 2012 at 16:58
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        I agree. There definitely needs to be more warnings. Thanks for putting up these these posts. They’re very needed and allow people to make informed decisions about whether to visit the park, but it should also say in the car parks and on the gates if dogs are being killed.

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  • 4th June 2012 at 21:05
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    Sadly, the only answer is not to bring dogs to the park at dangerous times of the year. Signage should be displayed by the park authorities, making clear precisely which months to avoid.

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  • 21st June 2012 at 12:16
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    Just wanted to say that last night I went into the Park at NPL Car Park entrance and a loan deer went absolutely mad at me; my dogs were on leads and I was by the Cricket Ground. In the end it was so aggressive I came home. I couldn’t put myself through the stress!!I don’t think this is settling down as it seems as bad as ever. The Stags were under a tree by the bigger cricket pitch absolutely fine. I do think that the signs are rather small I would personally like something around the bad areas saying you enter here at your own risk or words to that effect so I’m completely sure where I must not go. I love Bushy Park and feel privileged to live in such a wonderful area but this is going on too long now.

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    • 21st June 2012 at 16:05
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      Thanks Mandy – it’s clear that even though the deer should have calmed down by now, they are still charging dogs (lastest attack was two days ago by Chestnut Avenue).

      However this is the first time I’ve heard of this outside of the danger nursery areas – I take my dog near the cricket pitches because I thought it was safe there, I’ll stay away for now I think.

      Also agreed, the signs need to be more obvious and have a more start warning. I still think most dog walkers think they are safe if they keep their dog on the lead and aren’t aware of attacks & deaths.

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  • 8th August 2012 at 16:54
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    Does anybody know if these attacks have stopped yet? Is it safe to go back into the Royal Parks? I’m new to the area and this has come as quite a shock to me, I drove into the parks and didn’t notice any signage at all, and I do think the parks have a responsibility to warn people if there is a danger to them or their dogs on their property.

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    • 8th August 2012 at 16:59
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      Hi PoodleOwner, yes it’s way past birthing season and the park now has adequate plant coverage for the deer to not feel threatened.

      The next time of year where you might want to give the deer more space than usual is rutting season in October/November where they fight over mating rights. This is more of a danger to approaching humans than dogs though.

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      • 9th August 2012 at 11:37
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        How wonderful for us. You’d think they’d do more to warn people! So it’s May – June and October – November each year? As they’re approaching and charging people who are at quite a distance, any idea how you should react if a deer charges you? (i.e. should you run away or face it – what will scare it off, and how to avoid those antlers… ouch!) I do realise we need to co-exist but they surely have some sort of responsibility to make sure visitors are fully aware….?

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  • 31st May 2014 at 10:03
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    I was walking my dog on friday in bushy park. We were at least 100 yards away from any deer and behaving calmly and responsibly. Two deer came running up to us in a threatened manner. I was terrified. I think it is ridiculous that wild deer are penned into this relatively small area highly populated my people, their dogs and their children. Green spaces are here for everyone to enjoy without being terrified by wild animals. The beautiful spaces of london are here surely for the benefit of the population, not the deer. I think in these months the deer should at least be penned in to protect the public.

    Reply

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