An ‘aggressive’ deer at an English beauty spot had to be shot dead after it injured a park-goer in an incident believed to have been sparked by a family feeding it carrots.
The National Trust says the wild animal had to be put down after it began ‘posing an immediate threat’ to visitors at Knole Park in Kent.
The charity, which runs parks, gardens and manor houses across the UK, has since blamed the incident on feeding and petting by members of the public.
It comes after a mother admitted in a social media post that she and her family had fed the deer carrots while having a picnic at the beauty spot, near to the Kent town of Sevenoaks.
Victoria Chaney spoke of her horror after feeding the deer, only for it to be hunted down and killed after it began pestering other groups at Knole Park.
An ‘aggressive’ deer at an English beauty spot had to be shot dead after it injured a park-goer in an incident believed to have been sparked by a family feeding it carrots
The National Trust says the wild animal had to be put down after it began ‘posing an immediate threat’ to visitors at Knole Park in Kent. It comes after Victoria Chaney (pictured right with her daughter Alexis) admitted in a social media post that she and her family had fed the deer carrots while having a picnic at the beauty spot, near to the Kent town of Sevenoaks
The National Trust, which runs parks, gardens and manor houses across the UK, has since blamed the incident on feeding and petting by members of the public. Pictured: Fallow deer in Knole Park
Knole house (pictured) is the ancestral home of the Sackville family. Author and member of the Bloomsbury Set Vita Sackville-West was Virginia Woolf’s lover in the 1920s and 30s
Mrs Chaney, her father-in-law, his partner and her three children visited the ancestral home of the Sackville family for a day out on Friday, July 3 and had taken a bag of carrots for the animals.
But their peaceful day out turned into a nightmare after they discovered a deer they had fed had to be put down.
What do the experts say about feeding deer in the UK?
The British Deer Society (BDS), which promotes deer education, research and management best practice, says there is ‘really no need’ to feed wild deer in the UK.
The society says deer can usually find everything they need in the wild and new foods can upset their stomachs.
They also warn that regular feeding can cause wild deer to become a nuisance or aggressive.
The society says visitors to parks should always follow the guidance from the park’s operators and to check before visits due to seasonal changes in the behaviour of deer.
Source: The British Deer Society
After the incident, upset Mrs Chaney, 40, took to Facebook to warn others about the dangers of feeding wild animals.
Mrs Chaney, who lives in nearby Maidstone, wrote: ‘We took carrots for the deer, yes we are fully aware that like most places it states not to feed the animals.
‘But being animal friendly we wrongly assumed this was meant so people do not feed them unsuitable things like chocolate or donuts.
‘One (deer) did come over and was so cute it is very hard not to give them anything so out came the carrot – it was soon chased off by a lady that worked there which is fine.’
Mrs Chaney, who said her daughter Alexis, 12, had been particularly upset by the incident, said what happened next made the family feel ‘terrible.’
She went on: ‘She then said they were trying to catch it as it was hurting people.
‘Five minutes later the deer keeper came along in his truck and was marching about with a stick.
‘My 12-year-old daughter asked him if he was looking for the deer… he informed us that he was looking for it to shoot.
‘We asked why and he said because when they become too tame by being constantly fed by the public that they then become a nuisance and hazard and have to be destroyed .
She added: ‘We obviously felt terrible and he walked off into the wooded bit next to us and five minutes later there was a gunshot and bang it was dead.’
After the incident, upset Mrs Chaney, 40, took to Facebook to warn others about the dangers of feeding wild animals. Pictured: Deer enjoy the winter sun at Knole Park near Sevenoaks
‘I am sharing this not as a negative publicity thing against Knole Park because it is lovely but to make us the public aware that when there are signs saying DO NOT FEED then it really means it.’
Knole Park: A palace for archbishops and the ancestral home of the Sackville family
The first recorded owner of the Knole estate is Robert de Knole in 1290 – though little is known about what was built there at this time.
In 1456 it was sold to then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bourchier, and from then on was continually enlarged by successive Archbishops.
It became a royal possession under Henry VIII, who is said to have used it as a hunting ground.
From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles.
Over more than 400 years, his descendants rebuilt and then furnished Knole.
The house and around 43 acres of the surrounding 1,000 acre park are now owned and run by the National Trust.
She added that she believes Knole should change signs in its 1,000-acre park to warn people that deer could be shot if they are fed.
In a statement, The National Trust said the deer was displaying ‘over aggressive behaviour’, had injured a visitor and was posing an ‘immediate threat’ to others.
The trust said: ‘The decision was therefore taken by the deer keeper to put the animal down. The area was cleared and this was carried out safely and discreetly.
‘The deer’s behaviour was unfortunately as a result of people feeding and petting the deer against the advice of the National Trust and the Knole Estate.
‘We take animal welfare very seriously and have been actively engaging with visitors on social media and onsite, with both Knole Estate and National Trust staff regularly patrolling the park in efforts to educate visitors.’
In the statement, the trust said the park had signage warning visitors not to feed deer, including at the entrance, and had information on its web pages.
Meanwhile an animal rights group has criticised the shooting.
A spokesperson for Animal Rights in Kent told Kent Messenger: ‘We believe it was completely wrong to shoot the deer.
‘If people go up to wild animals and ignore the signs, it’s not the fault of the deer if the people get hurt.’
Others commenting on Mrs Chaney’s Facebook post were also critical of the family for feeding the deer.
One Facebook user, Julie Ralph, said: ‘I just don’t get it, if you are asked not to feed the deer, it means don’t feed the deer anything – simple.’
The post on Facebook sparked reaction from other Facebook users, who criticised the family’s decision to feed the deer
Another, Mellissa Lane, said: ‘Unbelievable, do not feed means do not feed! What is wrong with people?
‘Clearly you read the signs! Then decided they didn’t apply to you. Gobsmacked!’
Knole is the ancestral home of the Sackville family.
Author and member of the Bloomsbury Set Vita Sackville-West was Virginia Woolf’s lover in the 1920s and 30s.
The deer are not owned or managed by the National Trust but are instead cared for – along with 90 per cent of the parkland – by the Sackville family’s Knole Estate.