If you read this headline and thought to yourself, ‘Yep, I'm definitely stuck in a rut – but what’s that got to do with London’s parks?’, then a) we’re with you and b) we’re talking about a different kind of rut.
Between now and the end of November, it’s actually rutting (breeding) season for wild deer like the ones roaming free in Richmond Park. During this time red stags and fallow bucks, flooded with testosterone and adrenaline, roar and clash antlers in a bid to fight off rivals and attract as many hinds (female deer) as possible.
It’s proper spicy stuff and can make for something of a spectacle, but it can also mean that park visitors who choose to get up close for that viral TikTok smash, risk getting hurt. Over the years, people have been injured in rutting-related incidents – one man was even hospitalised in 2017 after suffering injuries from a male deer in Richmond Park.
Park Manager Simon Richards explains: ‘Stags can have harems of up to 40 hinds, and they spend most of their day and night chasing challengers away and preventing hinds from straying, leaving little time for sleeping or eating.
‘This exhaustion and hunger, coupled with testosterone surging through their bodies, means they are in no mood for dogs spooking their hinds or humans getting in their face for a selfie,’ he added.
So what can you do to avoid such attacks? Well, you can start with the fifty-metre rule. It’s like the one-metre rule, but times fifty. Almost all recorded incidents happened when people got within fifty metres of a stag or hind, so socially distancing from these animals is the best place to start.
The Royal Park also recommends the following safety measures:
1. Keep dogs on leads or walk them elsewhere
2. No feeding or touching the deer
3. No taking photos of deer at close range
3. Never get in between two rutting male deer
So there you have it. Now, remember this slogan: Stay Alert, Control the Rut, Save Lives.
Want to go for a stroll without ‘deer fear’? Check out this list of London's best parks for crisp autumn walks.
Love nature-spotting? Find out where to see wildlife in London.