VIDEO: Royal Parks ranger on why you shouldn't feed the deer in Richmond Park

  Posted: 22.07.21 at 16:50 by Jessica Broadbent

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The Royal Parks has released a video with one of the volunteer rangers explaining the Parks' "Golden Rules" for visitors to places like Richmond Park regarding the deer.

Ranger Paul Rickard explains why feeding deer is the opposite of kind and why it’s important to keep 50 metres from these wild and unpredictable animals.

He says: "The deer herds of Richmond and Bushy Parks are very much part of the iconic imagery of these magnificent parks of south west London.

"We do ask visitors to observe a couple of golden rules regarding their interactions with the deer, especially in terms of maintaining their own personal safety, and also for the welfare of the animals."

The Park Ranger's golden rules

Keep a distance

Baby deer play in Bushy Park (Image: Sue Lindenberg)

"First we ask visitors to maintain a distance of 50 metres between themselves and the deer.

"The close proximity of people to deer can cause stress to the animals. When a deer is stressed they can behave in quite an aggressive and unpredictable fashion.

"We should always remember these are wild animals and their behaviour is conditioned very much by the natural environments in which they live.

Don't feed the deer!

"Second, we asked people not to feed the deer.

"Deer are herbivores, and their diet is comprised of abundant vegetation around the park. The appearance of these parks is very much determined by the deer feeding habits and deer numbers are managed so as not to cause over grazing.

"As browsing herbivores, the diet of deer tends to consist of things like new tree growth, young plants, saplings, acorns, chestnuts and some fruits, and these are very abundant in both parks.

"The only time of year where they might need a helping hand is during winter, where there may be less food available, or it may be more difficult to get at. During the winter season hay is provided for them. But for the rest of the year they do not need any supplementation to their diets, especially things like sandwiches and crisps and biscuits.

"The further aspect of visitors feeding the deer is that it can alter their natural instincts and their behaviour, and they become what we call socialised - too reliant on food from visitors, so that they start to lose some of their natural instincts, and their foraging for finding food.

"Where deer do become reliant on food from visitors, this can weaken the herd, as well as also reducing their resistance to disease and illness.

"In addition, feeding the dirt can cause deer to become quite aggressive towards people actually feeding them.

"Deer are very persistent animals. Once someone starts feeding them, they can soon find themselves surrounded, and this can indeed be a very intimidating experience.

"So please enjoy viewing these beautiful animals in their natural setting, but do so at a safe distance and whatever you do don't feed the deer!"

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