Photographersencircle a stag in Richmond Park , apparently unaware of the dangers they are facing — in an image released today.
Startling image shows photographers surrounding Richmond Park stag... as public are warned to stay away from rutting deer
It is part of an effort to persuade visitors not to approach the animals during rutting season, which comes to an end next month - writes standard.co.uk
Pumped full of testosterone, red stags and fallow buck roar, bark and clash antlers as they fight rivals for females. Clashes can be so violent that the deer can die from their injuries.
There are about 630 red and fallow deer in Richmond Park, and about 300 in nearby Bushy Park. Last October Yuan Li, 43, a hatmaker from Leytonstone, was gored in the leg and stomach by a rutting stag in Richmond Park.
Today the Royal Parks charity that runs them advised photographers, selfie-hunters and dog walkers to keep at least 50m (165ft) away from deer.
Adam Curtis, park manager at Richmond, said: “Aside from being dangerous and stressful to the deer, getting too close can inhibit natural behaviour.
“Once, I counted 60 photographers encircling a single stag. There are some very responsible wildlife photographers out there, but sadly there are far too many that value the photo over the subject.” He added: “Our deer are wild and therefore unpredictable. People fail to realise this when they are chasing them with a selfie stick, attempting to feed them or even trying to pet them.
“Stags during rutting season can weigh up to 25 stone, reach speeds of up to 30mph and have over 20 sharp spikes on their head. Getting close to them, or any deer, is dangerous. Also, during the rut, stags are chased by other stags, so anything that gets too close risks getting caught in the crossfire.”
Earlier this year Mr Curtis was forced to issue a warning to visitors telling them not to approach newborn deer.
The Royal Parks advised wildlife photographers to use a long lens and to visit early on a weekday morning, when crowds are less likely.
The image was taken during last year’s rut but published by Royal Parks for the first time today.