Recently, a deer in Richmond Park attacked a young woman from behind. The deer reared up on its hind legs and pushed the woman with its forelegs in her lower back. She was taking a selfie. In other words, she was standing quite close to the deer who was behind her in order to get herself and the deer in the same photograph. It’s a reminder that deer are wild animals and that they can be dangerous especially during the rutting season which is now (breeding season). The park rangers tweeted the image but rather strangely it has been deleted although the Daily Mail have retweeted it!
The parks police tweeted: ‘This picture, taken on October 11 in Richmond Park, demonstrates why you need to stay 50m away. They are wild animals and can cause you injury #WeAreNotBambi.’
The story is interesting for me because I walk in Richmond Park almost daily. Just the other day I walked within about 50 yards of a rutting red deer. My friend asked whether we were too close and I said we were not as we were outside of the 50 m distance to be safe. The deer ignored us and carried on bellowing across the park.
If you walk in the park at the moment the males are bellowing all over the place. The deer are more active. However, I often see tourists approaching derr and getting to within a few metres of them. Sometimes they try and feed them. Above all, they want to photograph the deer and to get the best photograph they approach too closely.
It is beautiful to be able to walk into nature and be among wild animals like this. But unfortunately some people fail to respect the animals. Not only do they walk too close to them but they also allow their dogs off the lead which is strictly forbidden because they can harass female deer which is liable to provoke an angry response. There is quite a high degree of carelessness amongst the humans and the lack of respect which is in stark contrast to the deer themselves who are always respectful of humans. They normally trot away from people as they approach. However, some deer appear to have become habituated to the presence of people.
As for myself, when I see deer I keep a respectful distance from them because I do not want them to have to get up and move away from me. This is their place and humans are visiting it. Richmond Park should be as natural as possible and people are observers. They should not interfere in any way with nature in this wonderful place.
I’m told that there are 1000 free-roaming deer in the park. Sadly, for me, they are partly culled around now because they argue that the park is a finite space and they can’t allow deer to breed to the point where the park can no longer sustain them. I suspect too that they are protecting people and ensuring that they minimise the risk of human-animal conflict.