Another year passes with my favorite 'photography' time of the year being the annual deer rut. As I'm based in the midlands my usual stomping grounds are through the 800 acres of Bradgate park in Leicestershire, a wonderful wild and colourful place and normally in my opinion the best place in the midlands to see Red and Fallow deer that was until this year..........
Now maybe I miss timed my trips or was just unlucky but speaking to fellow photographers I don't think so, this year was tough; very tough, where were the deer?
Bradgate has a large area of the park dedicated as a deer sanctuary with no public access, excellent idea, so maybe they were all hiding away from photographers and dog walkers? This is a possibility in years past this has happened and fewer deer have been seen around the park so maybe?
Now onto my own theory; Bradgate published figures this year that dogs chasing deer had caused up to 30 deaths in only a couple of months, this has to be a major cause along with the annual deer cull (I have no details on culling numbers).
Report here from Leicester Mercury
I've winessed this myself with dog walkers not caring about the welfare of the deer and thinking they have a right to let dogs off leads whatever the consequences, every year most photographers will be able to tell at least one story about dogs chasing or harassing deer.
So 30 deer are dead, some may have been pregnant so that number must be higher, at least one died by running directly into a stone wall! This has to have had an impact on deer numbers this year which could have a knock on affect for years to come
As you can imagine Bradgate have now made it law that all dog owners have to keep dogs on leads, oh wait no they haven't! They have now decided after local news coverage all deer deaths have stopped and they think everything will now be ok. They did implement a ban during June and July whist deer were giving birth but then lifted it.
Next year i think it's time to be looking to visit areas of Derbyshire such as Chatsworth or maybe Wollerton park in Nottingham as an alternative as until Bradgate sort the dog problem out I can't see it going away. Saying that I can't see a year going past without a trip to Bradgate as I love the place so much but we will see.
Oh and by the way I am a dog owner myself..................