Helping deer on private land can be done without prosecution fear, Hampshire police and Forestry England says
RESCUERS of a stricken deer that was tangled in fencing on private land say they were hampered in their efforts by fears they may be prosecuted.
The individuals, who did not want to be named, said the rescue – although successful – was delayed by attempts to contact the landowner because they did not know where they stood with regard to trespassing.
But Hampshire police have now confirmed that the law stated that a person would not be found guilty of an offence if "action is taken in the belief that consent of the landowner or occupier would have consented had they known of the circumstances".
"Obviously, the agisters, Forestry England keepers and those humane dispatchers on our approved list are all very experienced, so they will assess the situation when they arrive and will be able to judge the condition of the deer and whether this action would be needed," said a spokesperson.
A Forestry England spokesperson said its New Forest Keepers played a major role in managing the deer population on the Crown lands.
"They are highly trained and experienced in dealing with injured deer and regularly attend road traffic accidents," she said. "There have been many occasions when male deer have become entangled in fencing or ropes across the Forest and the keepers have released them, or given the animal every chance to recover. However, there are times when keepers have to put the animal down humanely."
She added: "If you are involved in a road traffic accident involving a deer you should call the police on either 999 or 101 and give them as much detailed information as possible about your location.
"If you are unsure of who owns the land an injured deer is on, and the situation is urgent, the police can send one of the humane animal dispatchers from their approved list or liaise with the RSPCA."
Those who sport a deer on New Forest Crown Lands which looks ill or is injured or in distress should report it by calling Forestry England's 24-hour call centre on 0300 067 4600.