'Oblivious' Phoenix Park visitors warned not to feed deer as rutting season begins
The increasing trend of feeding deer in the Phoenix Park is putting the deer and park-goers in danger, the Wild Deer Association of Ireland have warned.
WDAI director Damien Hannigan says that there is an growing trend among park-goers and tourists to feed the deer and post pictures of it on social media; he says people seem “oblivious to the danger”.
There is particular danger in the summer months, when mother deer are protecting their fawns, and in October, which marks the beginning of ‘rutting season’.
“What happens during rutting season is that the bucks get a testosterone increase which can cause them to fight. When these fights happen, smaller bucks will run away and if you have people nearby, it could be very dangerous. People should keep a very large distance so they don’t get trampled,” Mr Hannigan told independent.ie.
“Deer are naturally very timid animals but they’re starting to lose their fear of humans due to being fed by them. If they see someone standing there with food in their hand they might approach, and that could be dangerous.”
This is not just dangerous to people, but to the deer as well. “They can only digest certain foods, and if they’re given too much of a food they can’t digest it can kill them,” Mr Halligan said.
Mr Halligan said that park rangers do their best to patrol the park and warn people away from the deer, but emphasised that it is basically impossible to fully patrol the largest walled area in Europe with the staff they have. There are signs in the park warning people of the danger, but some people take little notice of them.
Mr Halligan also warned people to keep their dogs under control. “Deer will always run from a dog, no matter how small it is, and that can be extremely dangerous with traffic moving through the park.”