Richmond and Bushy parks are wonderful places to visit and much loved by the many people that use them. In these uncertain times, it is understandable that the public wants to visit for some much-needed exercise and relaxation.
However, the volume of people use the parks and how some people are behaving is causing serious issues and directly impacting the welfare of the parks' deer.
Although closed to traffic and cyclists, the number of visitors spread out over through the parks, have left few refuges for the deer. Last weekend park staff picked up in excess of five tons of picnic litter and waste. There have also been multiple deer worrying incidents by dogs, some fatal for the deer.
Due to the situation, the parks have now been granted the authority to impose a compulsory 'dogs on lead' policy with fines and bans for anyone who disobeys. This has been granted initially for the period May 17th to July 7th, on the basis that this is the season when the deer are giving birth.
While some dog owners may see this as an infringement on their rights to use the Parks to exercise, they should be aware that this policy is keeping not only the deer safe but also the public and their dogs.
The BDS fully supports the Royal Parks efforts to ensure that their deer are allowed the stress-free environment that they need, especially at this sensitive time when they are seeking quiet areas to give birth and conceal their young. Living in an enclosed space means that their options are limited and insensitive public access, especially free-running dogs can easily lead to tragic consequences.
Newly born deer are unable to run with their mothers and are very vulnerable. They may be defended vigorously by a parent whose natural inclination at any other time would be to flee.
We ask everyone to respect the deer which are such an iconic feature of these Parks.