Posted: 19.07.21 at 19:40 by Ellie Brown
IN a shocking new photo posted over the weekend, Bushy Park deer can be seen fighting over a plastic bag filled with bread, bashing their antlers together in what one park ranger dubbed 'the bread rut.'
The picture, which has caused outrage online, was taken by volunteer park ranger Cathy Cooper and posted on Saturday July 17.
It comes after the Royal Parks launched their #KeepWildlifeWild campaign urging visitors to stop feeding wildlife in 8 of London's parks due to the damage this causes park ecosystems - and the 'unnatural' behaviours it encourages.
In her Tweet , Cooper said: "The bread rut. 2 bucks fighting over whole loaf meant for ducks.
"Not good for either and unnatural behaviour. Please don't bring bread into the park"
Responding to the photo, regular park users expressed their outrage over the incident - and recalled their own experiences of witnessing wildlife feeding in Bushy Park.
Local resident and keen wildlife photographer Lesley Marshall said: "This is just awful. I saw the same with 2 Egyptian geese on Heron Pond last night.
"I actually thought they were going to kill each other, it was so vicious, one was left with a very nasty scar."
Saskia Daniel wrote: "Ugh. I hate that people think that kind of food is appropriate for wild animals."
And Charlotte Trendell added: "Yesterday around the lake there was a huge group of people and loads of deer cos they were feeding them their picnic.
"It was chaos & quite upsetting to see, as well as for the deer I'm sure."
In March this year a deer was put down after getting a plastic bag tangled in its antlers.
Feeding deer and ducks in the parks may be tempting, but experts say that it is not good for the animal or the par it lives in.
In a statement on its website the Royal Parks said: "Excessive feeding in the parks encourages large groups of birds such as gulls and crows.
"They bully other birds, stealing their eggs and killing their chicks.
"Leftover food can attract rats, and water quality can be impacted through uneaten soggy bread and waterfowl faeces.
"Feeding from the public also attracts large numbers of waterfowl, which leads to overcrowding and stress, and helps wildlife diseases spread."
Tom Jarvis, Director of Parks at The Royal Parks said: “We understand that visitors want to get close to nature, particularly in a busy city like London, and the desire to feed wildlife comes from a good place, but leaving wildlife alone is often the kindest thing to do.
"There is an abundance of natural food in the parks for all wildlife to feed on, including insects and wildflower seeds.”
"This food gives them a balanced diet and helps them lead a wild, natural and ultimately better life," he added.
You can find out more about the effects of feeding the deer in Bushy and Richmond parks in this short Youtube video by Volunteer ranger Paul Rickard.
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