Search icon


10th Oct 2020

‘Senseless’ Phoenix Park incident proves you should never feed the deer

Megan Cassidy

Don’t feed the deer.

Over on on our Lovin Dublin Instagram feed we regularly share photos of the incredible wild herd of deer in the Phoenix Park, and people go crazy for them.

But an incident this week in the park serves as a warning to the public that while beautiful to look at, deer are wild animals and as such are unpredictable and to be treated with caution.

We’ve heard the warning countless times – don’t feed the deer – but one family learned the hard way this week when a young stag became aggressive.

Ballymun-based wildlife photographer Michael Keating witnessed the moment and told Dublin Live

‘The poor family were panic stricken.

‘They got too close to the deer, and should not have been feeding them. All the big stags were in the wooded area. And the big fella made a beeline for your man.’

Michael explained that while the woman involved rushed to get the children out of the way, the man who had been feeding the deer raised his hands, an act that the deer could have perceived as a challenge.

‘The big stag’s tail went up in the air and we knew what was coming.

‘Luckily nobody was hurt. If a stag’s tail is up like that, it’s never a good sign for any humans in his way.

‘The deer followed them for a few minutes and honestly, it could have turned very bad.’

A notice on the OPW website reads: 

‘Please do not feed [the deer] any food including carrots, apples, bread, crisps and chocolate.

‘These food stuffs are not part of the deer’s natural diet.

‘While some people are well intending, feeding deer human food, such as the examples above, is having detrimental effects on the deer and their interaction with visitors to the park.

‘Keep a reasonable distance between you and the deer, at least 50m. Always keep in mind that the deer in the park are wild animals and their behaviour can be unpredictable so be alert when you are around the deer.

‘Please do not put children at risk by bringing them close to the deer, especially the bucks.

Michael captured the incident in a series of photos which he shared with Dublin Live 

Read next: Yes – we CAN use ‘Keep Cups’ safely during Covid 19 and this Dublin café is doing it