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• ‘Dogs on leads’ now compulsory during deer birthing season in Bushy and Richmond Parks

• ‘Dogs on leads’ now compulsory during deer birthing season in Bushy and Richmond Parks

Newborn fawn © Judy Momorella

From today (Monday 18th May) until Monday 6th July, dogs will be required to be on a lead in all areas of Bushy and Richmond Parks.

That’s because over the next few weeks, 300 baby deer will be born in the two Parks. The season marks a vulnerable time for female deer, who hide their young in bracken and long grass to conceal them from dogs and other perceived predators.

Deer are excellent mothers and they will be on constant high alert, unable to relax if they see a dog in the vicinity. During the birthing season, protective mother deer have been known to give chase and attack dogs, even if they are at a distance and not acting aggressively.

Deer are instinctively frightened of dogs, and this has not been helped by recent events, in which 21 separate incidents of dogs chasing deer in the two Parks have been recorded since the end of March. Of those, two incidents resulted in deer sustaining fatal injuries, including a heavily pregnant deer just weeks away from giving birth. A further two incidents caused a stampede of deer through park visitors and their families.

Simon Richards, Manager of Richmond Park, said, “All dogs, irrespective of how good their recall is, must be kept on leads during deer birthing season. This is for the wellbeing of our deer, and for the safety of dogs and visitors. This year, for the avoidance of doubt, we will be making it compulsory.”

If you witness a dog chasing a deer, immediately call the on-call police for Bushy and Richmond Parks on 07920 586546.

• The photograph of the newborn fawn is courtesy of Judy Momorella, to whom we offer our thanks

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