Dogs will be required to be on leads in all areas of both Richmond and Bushy Park, from Tuesday 4 May, as the deer enter their birthing season.
Dog walkers are “strongly advised” not to walk their dogs in the parks at all over this time, with lead-wearing being compulsory until 2 August.
Up to 300 new fawns are expected to be born over this period. Along with their pregnant mothers, these deer are particularly vulnerable to predators.
Park management is hoping the strict rules will see less chases between dogs and wildlife, namely the deer population. Over a hundred chases have been reported since last year’s breeding season.
A number of dog owners have appeared in court and been convicted for not having their dog under control.
At least five deer have died after being attacked by dogs in the parks. In January, distressing footage showed a deer being attacked by a dog let off its leash. Members of the public intervened to stop the dog, who continued to attack the animal as it lay wounded.
Image above: deer in Richmond Park
Dog walkers ‘should avoid Royal Parks’ for now
Richmond Park Manager Simon Richards said: “During the deer birthing season, we strongly advise that dogs are not walked in either Richmond or Bushy Park but, if this is not possible, dogs must be on leads in all areas of the parks.
“Female deer are afraid of dogs harming their young. Concern for their newborn means they may act defensively towards dogs – they have been known to give chase and attack, even if the dog is at a distance and not acting provocatively. Dog walkers must remain vigilant, avoid areas of dense vegetation and stick to the perimeter of the park. As a dog owner myself, I know this can be frustrating, but it really is for the safety of both deer and dogs. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and we thank all our visitors for their support with these measures.”
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