(Richmond version) Over 1,500 deer dead in Richmond’s Royal Parks in last five years – official figures reveal

Republished from the original at Richmond Nub News.

Over 1,500 deer have died or been killed in Richmond’s Royal Parks over the last five years – with the vast majority perishing during the annual cull, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.

The twice-yearly cull sees Richmond Park, which is normally open to pedestrians 24 hours a day, closed between 8pm and 7.30am, for the purpose of keeping the deer population under control.

The cull is currently taking place until early December.

On the organization’s website, the Friends of Richmond Park say:

With no predators and 200 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Park’s carrying capacity without human intervention.

To prevent starvation and habitat destruction, the deer are selectively culled during November and again in February. This ensures a healthy herd of 650 with the correct balance of ages and sexes.

Despite the lack of natural predators, the park’s deer face threats from an array of human sources.

961 deer have been recorded as being killed in the Richmond Park cull between 2017 and 2021. The Royal Parks state that Richmond Park’s cull numbers also include those killed in Greenwich Park, of which there on average about six deaths per year – around 30 over five years.

Previous reporting by the Local Democracy Reporting Service showed that venison sold between 2013 and 2018 as a result of the cull in Richmond and Bushy Parks raked in more than £250,000 for the Parks.

Drivers constitute the second largest threat to the animals – killing 15 deer in the park, with dogs the third largest single threat – killing 13.

One of these recorded dog deaths was in 2020 and involved a dog chasing a deer into the path of an ongoing car.

The annual rut, or breeding season, has seen 12 deer perish in Richmond Park – with stags and bucks competing for females in spectacular battles over the autumn. No such deaths were recorded over the same period in Bushy Park.

Three deaths have been recorded as a result of cyclists in the park in the last five years, as well as 13 deaths from unknown causes and nine deaths from other causes, including deer trapped in fencing, a calf that was euthanised after it was abandoned due to a member of the public picking it up, euthanasia after getting tangled in a phone cable, and euthanasia after getting tangled in a rope.

In total, 1026 deer have died in Richmond Park over the last five years – an average of just over 200 a year. 532 deer died in Bushy Park over the same period.

Unlike other years, no Richmond Park deer were killed by drivers in 2020, when much of the park was off limit to cars.

Photo of young red deer in Richmond Park near the Pen Ponds. People are getting very close to the deer.
Despite the lack of natural predators, the park’s deer face threats from an array of human sources. Photo: Jack Fifield.

No deaths have been recorded as a result of e-scooters – which remain banned from the Royal Parks.

Gavin Gribbon, Records Manager of The Royal Parks, said:

As a member of the British Deer Society, The Royal Parks takes deer welfare very seriously and all aspects of their welfare are monitored regularly. In addition, both the society and the Deer Initiative of England and Wales fully endorse humane culling.

The Royal Parks is an expert manager of enclosed deer herds, which are under veterinary supervision. Deer populations are actively managed to keep herds at a sustainable size.

Without population control, food would become scarce and more animals would ultimately suffer. There would also be other welfare issues such as low body fat, malnutrition, high incidence of death from exposure to cold in winter and a build-up of parasites and diseases in deer.

In addition to this, deer occasionally have to be humanely despatched [killed] as a result of injury; occasionally these are pure accidents, for example injuries sustained during the rutting season. However, and unfortunately, some injuries are received as a result of interaction with park users, cars and dogs.

Photo of young fallow deer bucks and does gathering near Sheen Gate next to a park bench under a tree. Some are grazing.
The twice-yearly cull sees Richmond Park, which is normally open to pedestrians 24 hours a day, closed between 8pm and 7.30am, for the purpose of keeping the deer population under control. Photo: Jack Fifield