My fury as dogs chase baby deer
I AM in despair. The other day I watched as two yapping lurchers chased a young roe deer through our local woods.
Only minutes before, a responsible dog walker had warned me that two baby deer were under a bridge ahead. We walked past the bridge to see if we could see the fawns but they were not in sight.
Then we heard the excited barking and watched one of these beautiful animals running in panic and full pelt to avoid the dogs snapping at its ankles. The deer leapt a small fence followed by one of the dogs but then escaped as the panting pet came wandering back looking for its owner.
Fortunately, I did not see the owner as, at this stage, I was incandescent with rage. I honestly don’t think these were hunting dogs, but they were off the lead and the owner obviously had no control over them whatsoever.
After I made a few inquiries, I found out the owner was female and, maybe, she was absolutely devastated that her dogs had chased the deer and possibly done some damage as they snapped at it.
It was a heart-stopping and heartbreaking moment for everyone who witnessed it. Over the past few weeks we have been treated in the woodland near my home to close-up views of a buck and two does and their young.
Only last week, I was walking with my welltrained terrier, and I stopped to watch for some minutes as the deer spotted me and then carried on eating. Their red coats stood out from the green background and the male was proudly guarding his family.
I’m pretty sure that sights like this won’t be happening over the coming months as that family will now be nervous of humanity and their out-of-control pets. I was back there last night and there was no sign of the deer resting peacefully in the meadow, which is a real shame.
Roe deer grow to about 1.3 metres long and 75cm tall. Their long legs make them agile and able to run quickly and leap over quite large fences. They can actually leap from a standing position, I have often wandered along paths and seen deer ahead, only to be amazed by the size of the fence they have cleared.
They will become more obvious to country walkers in the coming months as they stick together in family groups.
And the woods have less foliage so they are easier to spot, although their red summer coat will turn darker grey in the winter. Roe deer live in areas of mixed countryside that includes woodland, farmland, grassland and heathland. They eat buds and leaves from trees and shrubs, as well as ferns, grasses and heathers.
Mating occurs around the end of August, so the young are born in May and June. This makes our local fawns a few months old, too young to be dealing with badlybehaved dogs. in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 29,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers. To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
●●Roe deer buck and doe