Posted: 08.08.20 at 11:15 by The Editor
Visitors to Richmond Park have been urged not to feed the wild deer living there.
The Royal Parks charity shared a shocking photo of a deer eating a slice of bread with plastic and paper bags at its feet to highlight the issue.
Richmond Park assistant manager Adam Curtis said: “By feeding the deer you are teaching them to approach humans for food, which is dangerous for all visitors.
“The deer roam free and we want them to enjoy a life that is as wild as possible.
“They should be enjoyed from afar, not harassed by visitors shoving branches, or human food, in their faces.”
The herds of deer in both Richmond and Bushy parks are wild and do not require feeding from the public.
Last month the Royal Parks highlighted the threat to deer from hugely increasing levels of littering. The charity shared footage of a stag with a bicycle inner tube stuck in its antlers.
They are herbivorous, so feed on grasses, leaves and shoots of trees, and other woody plants.
The two parks, which have a combined size of 3,600 acres, have an abundance of natural food suited to the deer’s nutritional needs.
The special grassland habitat that is protected by law, depends on deer grazing and the parkland trees have a distinctive browse line as the deer eat all the leaves and twigs growing below about 1.5 metres.
Deer grazing also prevents tree seedlings from growing, keeping the grassland open.
Jo Haywood leads the Volunteer Ranger Service for The Royal Parks.
She said: “We understand that some visitors are well intentioned, but unfortunately feeding the deer is the opposite of kind.
“We’ve seen examples of deer being fed crisps, sandwiches and even in some cases fizzy drinks.
“Unfortunately, some deer even associate plastic bags with food and will consume these bags in their quest for a tasty treat.
“In extreme cases this plastic can block their digestive system, condemning them to a lingering death from starvation.”
Rangers will be informing visitors of why feeding deer is dangerous and also sharing messages from the Summer of Kindness campaign which asks visitors to Enjoy the Parks, Respect the Environment and Be Kind to Others.
When visiting Richmond and Bushy Park, visitors should practise deer safety by:
• Keeping a minimum of 50 metres from deer
• Not touching or feeding the deer
• Staying alert. Deer are wild and unpredictable animals