Deer Rutting Season
As we arrive in September and the leaves just start to turn so we also approach the deer rutting season. It’s the time of year when many people suddenly become aware of the biggest wild animals we have in the UK as sadly the most common average interaction is a deer / vehicle collision, closely followed by the loss of the family pet dog as nature suddenly overrides their desire for treats or to respect your commands to “heel” and the scents of the rut prove to tempting to follow.
This is one of the most magical moments in the British wildlife year but also can be somewhat devastating if you happen to become one of the significantly increasing number of car drivers that collides with these magnificent creatures.
The absolute best way to avoid this happening to you is to slow down, dramatically cut your speed when driving through forest roads especially during the rut and then again during fawning.
You are driving through their forest, their home, they are not running across “your” road
What to do if you hit a deer with your car.
Pull over safely, put on your hazard warning lights and get to the side of the road out of the line of traffic.
Ring 101 and report it, then ring 0208 532 1010 if your in the boundaries of Epping Forest so the keepers can be made aware to assist.
If you have a jacket or blanket and the animal is on the floor in distress loosely cover its head to calm it down. It will not recognise anything around it in that situation and cars, people, the pain it is in will all put it further into stress.
Wait for help, it will come. Sadly 99% of the time the animal will need to be euthanised. Deer do not fare at all well in captivity if not bred into it, most vets will not treat them and there are laws governing their capture and unlikely release so however tempting it is to take to social media to engage with some well meaning people rather than call for assistance sadly all you are doing is unnecessarily prolonging its suffering.
Never be tempted to cuddle the poor animal, if it is just stunned and gets up to run to safety it will then be covered in your scent and be shunned from the herd anyway.
Muntjack have sharp tusks and will use them!
Never put the deer into your car to take it to get help!
If a stunned deer comes round in your car it is going to buck around and jump about to get out, antlers and hooves will make short work of you, your car interior and windows and most likely cause a further crash.
If you have a narrow escape and miss one deer in the road there will most probably be more immediately about as they are herd animals.
there is no point flashing your headlights as deer do not see in the same colour spectrum as us and will not see or recognise the signal, sounding your horn could make more run across the road. In all cases the simple solution is slow down or stop as much as is possible, put hazards on and let them quickly pass on their way.
If you end up face to face with a rutting deer either because it’s on the road or you have come across on them on a walk the best thing is watch from a safe distance or just leave them alone. If you get to close and are seen as a threat you may well be challenged. The best way to deal with this is just calmly back off. If the deer starts walking side onto you and looking out the corner of its eyes retreat quickly and quietly.
ultimately the best thing to do is slow down and avoid hitting a deer in the first place.
Dogs and deer do not mix
Each year we see scores of dogs getting lost or run over and even attacked during fawning and rutting seasons, the best thing to do is keep dogs on their leads at all times. To be fair this is just part of the countryside code and applies to sheep, cattle, deer and so forth. The forest is a wild open space, not a country park and as such dogs should always be under control.
Every year we have lots of people in distress appealing to everyone to look out for their dog. Please avoid this happening to you and when you have the urge to click the lead off…don’t! Not letting the dog off can save so much grief later on for the dog, you and the deer.