Bushy Park and Home Park compulsory “dogs on leads” restrictions during deer birthing season
The Royal Parks charity has confirmed that, from 1 May until 31 July 2022, dogs will be required to be on a lead in all areas of Bushy Park and Home Park together with Richmond Park, to protect both deer and dogs during the deer birthing season.
Over the next few months, around 4200 deer will be born in the 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.
Since the beginning of 2022, there have been over 50 incidents recorded of dogs chasing deer in the Parks. As many incidents go unreported, it’s expected that this figure is much higher. Unfortunately, in the month of March alone, the Royal Parks were alerted to over 26 separate incidents of dogs chasing deer, the highest number since centralised record keeping began..
During last year’s birthing season, when it was also compulsory to keep dogs on a lead, there was a 92% drop in incidents of dogs chasing deer in Richmond and Bushy Parks – two incidents recorded in those three months compared to 25 incidents in the preceding three months.
Dog walkers are warned, however, that having dogs on a lead does not completely eliminate risk, and the safest option is to exercise dogs elsewhere during the birthing season.
The Royal Parks also urges all visitors to give female deer respect, privacy and space, and not to go in search of young deer. Under no circumstance is a new-born deer to be picked up. If visitors see one on its own, they should rest assured that its mother will be grazing nearby. Female deer hide their young whilst they forage for food to create the milk that they need to nourish their young. Throughout the course of the day, the mother will periodically return to suckle her new-born, but she may reject it if she picks up a human scent.
Advice to dog walkers:
It is compulsory to keep your dog on a lead at all times, and in all areas of the parks, from 1 May until 31 July.
Avoid the areas shaded in orange on the maps. These are typically areas of long grass and bracken where new-born deer could be concealed.
If a deer approaches, let the dog off the lead so it can run away and doesn’t get hurt.
Consider walking your dog elsewhere
Advice to all park visitors:
Give deer plenty of space. Always keep at least 50 metres away.
Avoid deer nursery areas. Give female deer privacy and respect.
Never touch or handle a new-born deer under any circumstances, even if it’s on its own. It is not abandoned, and its mother will be grazing nearby.