Deer safety advice
The red and fallow deer in Richmond Park and Bushy Park are wild and powerful animals that deserve space and respect.
Always keep a minimum of 50m away from the deer
For your own safety, please keep at least 50 metres away from the deer, and never touch, feed or attempt to photograph them at closer range. Always be vigilant in a deer park, especially during the rutting season (September-November) and birthing season (May-July).
Please do not feed the deer, it’s illegal
There is an abundance of natural food in Richmond Park and Bushy Park for our herds of deer. They eat grass, leaves and shoots of trees, as well as acorns and chestnuts.
When visitors illegally feed deer, they are teaching these wild and powerful animals to approach humans for food which is dangerous for all involved.
We also advise that visitors do not picnic or eat food in close proximity to deer.
If visitors are approached by deer when picnicking, they should observe the following advice:
- cover their food and close any bags
- leave the food behind and move back to a safe distance
- wait for the deer to move on before returning to their picnic spot
Please do not photograph the deer at close range
During the rutting season there’s particular interest in the deer. The large males roar, bark and clash antlers in an attempt to fight off rivals and attract as many potential mates as possible. During this time, photographers have been witnessed surrounding deer which can interfere with the course of nature and be stressful for the animals.
All photographers must keep a minimum 50 metre distance away from deer and use a long lens.
For information on how to safely photograph deer please read the British Deer Society’s Code of Conduct.
Safety advice for dog walkers
Deer can feel threatened by dogs, even when the dog is at a distance and is not behaving in a provocative manner. This is particularly true during the rutting and birthing seasons. We recommend walking your dog outside of Richmond and Bushy Parks during these times.
Each year, from the 1 May until the 31 July, it’s compulsory to have your dog on a lead in all areas of the park because of the deer birthing season. During this time, we advise that all dog walkers stick to the perimeter of the park and avoid areas of long grass and bracken where newly born deer may be concealed.
Advice if you are approached by a deer
In the unlikely event you’re threatened or charged by a deer, try to put a vehicle or a substantial barrier (like a big tree) between yourself and the animal. If you have a dog, let it off the lead. The dog will be more capable of escaping when unrestrained and may be actually the reason that the deer has become agitated in the first place.
If you find a deer advancing towards you, do not wave or shout at it. Back off slowly, if possible, and the deer may be satisfied that you have left its personal zone.