Please don’t feed the deer
On Sunday, we went for a walk in Richmond Park with Baby’s grandparents and uncle. It was a beautiful day – a textbook autumnal afternoon with blue skies, a light breeze and only a slight chill. We had a lot of fun enjoying a taste of nature in London.
We wandered towards the deer because my father-in-law is a keen photographer (he took the photo above. James always complains that the dinner conversation is really tedious whenever we get together, talking about cameras and f-stops and the like). I’ve always loved the deer in Richmond Park, but I’m always careful around them and keep a respectful distance away. They are wild animals after all.
Which is why I was completely dismayed to see families behaving recklessly around them. Here is a list of things you should not do with the deer:
1. Feed them.
2. Get close to them, especially the males, and especially when it’s mating season (now)
3. Sit down about 10 feet from a herd of deer, who like to bolt at the slightest provocation
I watched in horror as a little boy who couldn’t have been more than 1.5-2 years old ran towards the deer with his father cheering him on. Another family including children of about 4, 6 and 9 who decided it would be a good idea to sit down next to the herd, must have crapped in their pants when two males began to chase each other, headed straight for them.
Looking on the Richmond Park website, it says: “During the autumn the deer ‘rut’ (breeding season) takes place. The red stags and fallow bucks compete for females (known as hinds and does respectively). At this time, the large males roar, bark and clash antlers in a spectacular way in an attempt to fight off rivals and to attract as many females as possible. The young are born mainly in June, and are hidden by their mothers amongst the bracken and long grass. Females and their young are very vulnerable and sensitive to disturbance at this time.”
Using nothing but the eyes in our head, we could see they were dangerous. Two males locked antlers and had a fight. The herd would move suddenly and erratically, running at top speed. One stag mounted a doe. This was not family entertainment.
This piece in the Evening Standard from September 26 talks about three separate recent incidents in which rutting deer attacked people, including a young girl who had to be taken to hospital.
Maybe I’m just a bit savvier about this sort of thing because I grew up in the country. But please, don’t get too close to the deer or feed them. They aren’t house cats.
Image credit: Roger Derbyshire