Deer become extremely stressed whilst being handled and rescued so it is important that those handling deer have an understanding or their behaviour and how to handle and control deer plus know when a rescue is not possible and too much of a risk to those trying to rescue the deer. Many road casualty deer are so seriously injured that they can only be put to sleep. However young deer are more likely to survive a road accident than adults.
We have Roe, Fallow and Sika Deer in East Sussex and a few Munkjac Deer. During the spring and autumn they are frequently hit by cars as dusk falls during the rush hour for traffic. As the rush hour gets longer so does the frequency at which deer are hit and injured. WRAS also deals with a number of deer caught in stock fencing and netting of various materials.
Limping and Missing Limbs
People frequently phone after seeing a deer limping or with the lower part of a leg missing. Many deer survive quite well on three legs.
After being hit by a car a limping deer will have adrenaline running through its body which will either make it run off and disappear and you’ll not find it; or get up find somewhere close by to hide and collapse down not wanting to stand.
Frequently young baby deer are found by walkers. The general advice is to leave well alone. It is normal for parent deer to leave their young hidden in long grass or other vegetation. However, parents do get killed on roads or killed by humans leaving orphaned young. It is important that these baby deer are not moved, if in doubt about whether the deer is orphaned phone for advice.
The young deer will normally start to wander off when mum does not return. If found in an exposed place like short grassland - not hidden - and at risk from dog walkers or other similar hazards then the baby deer may well have been abandoned. Do not move the deer unless advised to do.
Caught in rope and fencing
WRAS receives many calls about deer caught by their antlers in rope swings, by their legs in stock fencing and by their antlers in electric fencing. These stand a fairly good chance of survival but it depends on the damage and the length of time in which the animal has been caught for. Please do not just cut a deer free and release it, it is always best to wait for rescuers to arrive on site first before attempting to cut them free. Deer caught in rope, netting or electric fencing should be caught and then have the rope/fencing cut free from the antlers - some people have set them free by cutting the rope/fencing well away from the animal which then runs off dragging several metres of fencing behind it to become caught up again later.
WRAS frequently gets called out to road casualty deer. The success of treating these casualties is very low for adults but higher for youngsters. Quite often deer which receive a glancing blow from a car will just run off in an adreniline rush and you won’t see them again. Other deer which are hit harder will fall to the floor and be dazzed and concussed other will collapsed and be seriously injured. WRAS is only able to attend road casualties is enough suitably trained rescuers are available and the casualty is not too far away from them. WRAS does not deal with adult deer on Ashdown Forest as this area is covered by the Ashdown Forest Rangers. Injured deer in roads should be reported to the police using 999 as they pose a serious road hazard and can cause accidents. The police will frequently call WRAS for assistance - WRAS is the only wildlife rescue charity in East Sussex which will attend injured deer and give them a chance to survive. Do not attempt to move a deer out of the road or scare deer away from grass verges as you may just cause the deer to panic and run in front of another passing car. Alwaqys position you car where you are safe and put your hazard lights on. Unfortunately 90% of adult road casualty deer do not survive as they normally suffer from internal injuries or a broken spine.
Deer can cause a lot of problems in gardens and eat much prized vegetables and shrubs, for information of how to discourage deer from visiting your garden visit the British Humane Wildlife Deterrence Association.