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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The beast of Bushy Park: Man hurled to ground in latest attack by a rutting stag

By Nick Fagge and Emily Andrews

Targets have already included a female walker, a young girl and a swan.

Now a man in his 50s has become the latest victim of rutting stags running rampant round a London park.

The unidentified man was knocked off his feet by the red male deer, who charged him from 200 yards away with its 16-point antlers, leaving him on his back and sending the bottle of water he was carrying flying.

Attack: A man in knocked down by the stag in Bushy Park in south-west London, the latest victim of the rutting animals that have rampaged through the park in recent weeks

He was saved by passers-by, who ran to his aid and scared the animal away.

Autumn is the mating season for deer and stags aggressively compete for does, shunning food and devoting their time to capturing a harem of females, who come into season for only one or two days.

This year, however, that aggression appears to have spilled over into other targets.

And although no one can be sure if the same stag is responsible for all the attacks, locals at Bushy Park, in south-west London, are blaming an animal they have dubbed the Beast of Bushy.

Last week a woman walking through the park had to flee a charging stag, while a young girl was taken to hospital after she was attacked.

The man in his 50s was charged on Sunday evening. Although shocked, he was not seriously injured and was able to walk away.

The attack was caught on camera by music student William Harvey, 22, a keen wildlife photographer. He said: ‘I saw two stags running around bellowing at each other and displaying very aggressive behaviour.

‘After 15 minutes of that they went their separate ways. The one that attacked the man ran at him from about 200 yards away.

‘I think the man was trying to sit it out and hope that it would ignore him.

‘The stag got to the man and brushed against him at first. The man got up at this point and started to move off but the stag turned round and came back at him.

‘It went for him and there was contact between the stag’s antler and the man’s legs and he went down on to his back.

‘Once it had put the man on his back it moved off and some other people came running over and helped the man up.’

The 1,100-acre park is home to 320 red and fallow deer, which stand 4ft at the shoulder and can grow to a huge size.

A Royal Parks spokesman said: ‘Deer are wild animals and must be treated with caution.

'Visitors are reminded to keep a respectful distance of at least 50 yards from the creatures.’



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