More Volunteer Rangers Brought in to Richmond Park

Royal Parks have recruited ahead of deer birthing season

Volunteer Rangers Anne Scoggins and Jignesh Jani
Volunteer Rangers Anne Scoggins and Jignesh Jani. Picture: Cathy Cooper

May 3, 2024

The Royal Parks has recruited an additional 90 Volunteer Rangers to protect deer during the forthcoming birthing season.

This represents a near doubling of the existing team of 118 rangers in Richmond Park and Bushy Park who help ensure the safety of both deer and park visitors.

The role of Volunteer Rangers includes engaging the public and reminding them of the requirement to keep dogs on leads from 1 May to 31 July. This measure is aimed at safeguarding vulnerable newborn deer as well as ensuring visitor and dog safety.

Just last month, a fallow deer was mauled and killed in a suspect dog attack, and on a separate occasion a whippet was seen chasing a herd of around 30 fallow deer. These incidents serve as reminders of the need to ensure that dogs are always kept under control in the parks, especially around wild deer.

During deer birthing season, approximately 300 deer will be born across Richmond Park and Bushy Park. Female deer, in an instinctual effort to protect their young, can act defensively and have been known to chase dogs during this sensitive time. During this period, the safest option is to not walk your dog in the parks. Owners who choose to walk their dog in Richmond or Bushy Parks during this season, must keep their dogs on leads, should be on high alert for female deer, avoid areas of long grass and bracken where new-born deer could be concealed, and stick to the perimeter of the park in case they need to escape quickly.

Park Manager for Bushy Park, Phil Edwards says, “Thanks to the dedication of our Volunteer Rangers and park staff, and the co-operation of park visitors, we have seen positive changes in deer behaviour, which have demonstrated reduced stress levels and more natural roaming patterns.

“However, we rely on the public's assistance, especially dog owners, to keep themselves safe, and to avoid tragic incidents such as the recent mauling and death of a young deer in Bushy Park. “A second incident in which a whippet chased around 30 fallow deer caused huge stress to the herd. This could have resulted in deer charging at visitors and causing serious injuries or worse.”

Anne Scoggins, who has been a Volunteer Ranger since August 2020, says, “It is a privilege to be involved as a Ranger. I have met some wonderful people on my shifts, and I really enjoy the benefits of being outside.

“Our role is to educate, to be kind and to keep people and their dogs safe while protecting the wildlife. This time of year is especially tricky as the female deer are very protective of their newborn calves and fawns. We need to encourage people to keep their dogs on leads, to remind visitors to keep a safe distance of at least 50m away from deer, and refrain from seeking out or disturbing newborn deer.”

Park Manager for Richmond Park, Paul Richards says, “Although deer are instinctively frightened of dogs, they will overcome this fear if they believe their young are at risk.

“This means female deer may chase and attack, even if the dog is at a distance, on a lead and not acting provocatively. This can be extremely frightening to witness, especially for the dog owner.”

To increase public awareness during deer birthing season, Volunteer Rangers will host a pop-up information point within Richmond Park on Sunday, 5 May, from 1pm onwards, which follows on from several similar engagement events already held in Bushy Park and Richmond Park in 2024.

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