Photographers are being warned not to get too close to wild animals after a woman was attacked by a deer while she was taking photographs of it.
The alert came after what has been described as an ?unprecedented? attack by a charging Sika stag at a nature reserve at Arne, near Wareham in Dorset which is run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The Arne Nature Reserve attracts 60,000 visitors a year.
The injured woman – named by the Dorset Echo as Sharon Green-Buckley – received treatment for wounds to her hips after the incident which took place in the early evening of 23 September.
The attack has prompted park wardens to erect new warning signs in the nearby car park within the past few days, AP has learnt.
?I realised when I got to within a few feet that it was going to charge, so I instinctively turned sideways to prevent it piercing me in the stomach,? Sharon told the newspaper.
We understand that she suffered two puncture wounds – one cutting deep into her flesh ? as well as bruising.
?I was thrown to the ground. Luckily I was carrying a fleece, which was punctured by the antlers through four layers before they made contact with my flesh.?
Petrified to move – in case the stag attacked again – it was ten minutes before Sharon was able to back away from the animal, helped back to her car by some passers-by.
Deer expert Robert Underhill told us: ?The deer were moving from woodland to pasture, as part of their daily routine. The lady was on the route and this particular deer took exception to that. This is a real case of bad luck.?
He warned: ?They should be observed through a long lens or binoculars? It is common sense not to put yourself in danger.?
The RSPB told us that photographers should employ an element of ?respect? when getting close to such animals. ?They are wild creatures. We have no control over them, in the same way as we have no control over birds,? said an RSPB spokesperson.
It is not clear exactly what startled the stag but it is feasible that the attack may have been triggered by the flash on the woman?s camera, according to the reserve?s senior warden Mike Trubridge.
?Sika are probably more aggressive in their behaviour toward each other than Red or Fallow deer,? said Underhill, adding that such an attack is ?extremely uncommon? but not unprecedented in the UK.
Records reveal that in the 1930s a postman was attacked at a site nearby. ?They are not normally dangerous,? explained Underhill who is a deer management consultant for The Deer Initiative. But he added: ?Deer can be unpredictable at this time of year – the rutting season ? as it is when they mate.’ During the mating season the stag gathers females together and chases away other males.
The RSPB claims that the reserve?s newly erected warning signs add to notices that already exist elsewhere in the park, warning visitors about the danger of getting too close to Sika ? a species that originated in the Far East and is now commonplace in the region with a population of around 800.
Sharon Green-Buckley was not available for comment.
There are no plans to take action against the stag, according to the RSPB, which told us: ‘We don’t know where it is.’
The deer pictured here are Fallow deer.
? Sika stags can weigh up to 70kg, according to The British Deer Society which describes the Sika species as ?fairly unsocial, tending to be solitary for most of the year?, only getting together to mate. The organisation?s website adds: ?Sika have a wide repertoire of vocalisations. Stags groan, blow raspberries, yak-yak and give a high-pitched whistle during the rut or can emit a startling scream.? Most Sika in the UK are from Japan from where they were introduced in the 1860s.
Picture credit: Angela Nicholson