What to do if a deer charges when visiting Bradgate Park

Dog walkers are being advised to brush up on Bradgate Park’s rules as the resident deer head into birthing season.

The park in Charnwoord Forest is famous for the Red and Fallow Deer, which roam freely – meaning visitors can enjoy some amazing encounters with the wildlife.

As wild animals, there can be dangers involved if an animal approaches or interacts with visitors and the park asks that people ‘treat them with respect’ – especially between the months of May and July for birthing season, and rutting season from September to October.

Owners of dogs, who chase wildlife, including deer, could face criminal prosecution and a compensation claim under the restorative justice programme, say the park.

The wide, open spaces at Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood are ideal for long walks after lockdown but workers say “it is important that certain rules are followed to ensure they remain safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.”

The Estate warns visitors to ‘be aware of your surroundings’ as the deer can be dangerous because they are wild and therefore unpredictable, especially now.

They also want people to be aware of what to do if a deer panics and charges – including letting go of your pet’s lead.

Its latest advice is as follows:

Care around the deer

Visitors need to treat these wild animals with respect. Please do not approach animals to try and stroke them.

Do not feed the deer at Bradgate Park.

All visitors, including visiting photographers (we always advise use a long lens) and those with mobile phones, are asked to help safeguard the future of the deer by following a few basic rules:

  • Distance – do not get closer than 30 metres to the deer.
  • Disturbance – if the deer are lying down it is a good indication they are ruminating, which is part of the deer’s digestion process. Try not to make the deer move as this upsets their digestion.
  • Pursuit – if the deer start to move away it is because they feel threatened. Please do not follow them as this causes stress similar to being chased. Whilst we have publicised dog chasing deer, visitors have also started to pursue animals and this is not acceptable.
  • Surrounding- please do not try to photograph from all sides as this hems the deer in leaving them no room for manoeuvre and resulting in a high level of stress, comparable with being chased by a dog.

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Bradgate Park Trust says: “Deer can feel threatened by dogs, even over long distances and when the dog is not behaving in a provocative manner.

“This is particularly applicable during the rutting and birthing seasons. If you choose, at your own risk, to walk your dog in the Park at these times, please keep your distance from the deer and even in the Upper Park we advise you consider keeping your dog on a lead.

“If a deer does charge, dog walkers are advised to let go of the lead so the dog can run away from danger.

“In this circumstance the deer is very unlikely to give chase; they simply want the dog to be a safe distance from their young.

“Owners of dogs, who chase wildlife, including deer, could face criminal prosecution and a compensation claim under the restorative justice programme.”