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'Leave it' – plea to well-meaning New Forest deer rescuers

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A WILDLIFE rescue service is warning people not to try to take injured deer to a vet after once finding one lying across a grandmother’s lap in the back of a car.

Tony Lascelles, who runs Deer Emergency, said the best thing to do is to “leave it where it is” and call for help.

He said: “People are very well meaning but they can do more harm than good if they try to move it.

Deer will often cross roads in herds (photo: istock)
Deer will often cross roads in herds (photo: istock)

“I have had lots of examples of a deer being put in the boot of a car or on the back seat. I once found one across a granny’s lap.

“I told the people in the car they had probably caused the deer more damage by lifting it when it had internal injuries and put themselves at considerable risk.

“A deer is a wild animal not a pet. Leave it where it is and get help.”

Tony said that if anyone finds an injured or dead deer on the road they should phone the police for help.

However, if the animal is in woodland or land owned by the Crown, then Forestry England should be contacted.

If the deer is on private property, a call should go to Deer Emergency, a self-funding organisation based in Boldre.

Tony said: “We work closely with all the agencies involved when a deer is injured, including the police, RSPCA and the verderers. We not only go out to tend to injured deer but we also give people advice if they have hit one or seen one that is hurt.

“We can tell them exactly who to call and what to do – like giving the exact location of the animal and the details of injuries if they are apparent or the fact it is tangled in wire.

“We also tell them keep away in order not to stress the animal further and put themselves at risk.”

Staffed by volunteers, Deer Emergency dealt with 20 incidents of deer hurt or killed in the Forest in December including three on Christmas Day when two were wrapped in electric fencing in Minstead and released after three hours.

A third deer sadly died of its injuries after becoming entangled in wire in Bramshaw.

Tony, who was a deer manager for 20 years, said: “The number of incidents in December is up slightly. The trouble with deer is that they are transient.

“They will cross roads in herds with a leader. A huge number of deer can cross in favoured spots. People need to realise that.

“The speed limit in the Forest is mostly 40mph but that does not mean you have to go at that speed. Travelling at 20-30mph will give a deer, especially a small roe deer, a much better chance of survival if hit.

“It will also give you more chance of not causing damage to your car either. I had a recent incident in which a young woman had just bought a car in Southampton and was driving home through Brockenhurst when she hit a deer.

“Her car was very badly damaged.”

If a deer’s survival prospects are good, Tony will arrange for it to be taken to a rehabilitation centre. If not, it is put down humanely – a process that is covered by a strict set of rules and protocols.

He said: “It is sad when a deer dies, they are such magnificent creatures. Over the years they have given me such pleasure – founding Deer Rescue was my way of giving back to them in their hour of need.”

To contact Deer Emergency ring 0800 4480150

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