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Dog alert after attacks on deer
7:04am Monday 4th March 2013 in News
A CAMPAIGN has been launched in the New Forest following a spate of incidents in which deer have been attacked and killed by dogs.
Posters featuring a mutilated animal are being put in car parks by the Forestry Commission, which is urging anyone with information about the attacks to come forward.
At least ten deer have died in the past few weeks – but the commission is at a loss to explain the sudden increase in incidents.
But it says the problem seems to be a specific issue in the New Forest and is not aware of similar reports in Forestry Commission land in the wider area.
One of the incidents took place near Sway, where a dog chased a deer into a public car park. The terrified animal was brought down in front of several walkers, one of whom chased the dog off with a stick and was nearly bitten in the process. The deer ran off and is not thought to have been seriously injured.
Rangers and keepers are patrolling several parts of the Forest, including Denny Wood, Shatterford and Beaulieu Road, in a bid to prevent further attacks.
A Forestry Commission spokesman said people often walked their dogs at the times of day when deer were on the move.
She added: “At these times it's more important than ever to keep dogs under control. With the sudden scent of deer in the air and sudden movements in the undergrowth even the most well-trained dogs can feel the urge to sniff and chase.
Unfortunately, losing sight of your dog for even a few seconds gives it enough time to make chase.”
A National Park Authority (NPA) spokesman added: “Dog walkers should ensure that their dog doesn't attack deer or any other wildlife. Keep your dog close to you and visible at all times when such animals may be present – and if necessary use a lead.”
Heather Gould, chairman of the New Forest Dog Owners’ Group, said she was uncertain of the campaign having an effect.
She said: “I do think there’s some difficulty in identifying what might be poachers and what is out of control dogs.
“If it’s pet dogs chasing deer, people have to learn where not to take dogs – it’s an educational process.
“We are working closely with the authorities in codes of conduct.
“We stand for responsible dog ownership and condemn irresponsible dog owners.”
A spokesman for Test Valley Borough Council said it has a warden to overlook dog training classes, while Hampshire County Council said dog walkers should use a lead if necessary around wildlife or livestock.