When to Help Deer

There are six species of deer residing in Britain. They vary in size from the Muntjac at up to 18kg to the Red Deer at up to 190kg. But even the smallest deer can be very dangerous and you should never attempt to handle one yourself. ALWAYS call a specialist to assist you. 

It is unfortunately now illegal to release non-native deer (Muntjac, Sika, and Chinese Water Deer) into the wild after rescue as they are considered an ‘invasive’ species. You may therefore struggle to find help for them. If so, please contact our helpdesk for advice.


When to rescue #

Deer hit by a car
They may be lucky and escape major injury but will often go into deep shock. They need treatment and rest before being released.

An adult deer can be approached
Deer are naturally extremely shy so if an adult can be approached and doesn’t run away, there’s likely to be an issue.

Deer attacked by a dog
They will need treating for injuries and shock

Deer caught in fencing or netting
Do not attempt to free them yourself

Any obviously injured deer
If you can see wounds or there is a obvious leg injury, contact a rescue for advice. It may not always be necessary or possible to help a mobile deer but they will assess the situation.


When to take other action #

A deer with a limp

Leg injuries are common in wild animals but are often sprains. Although these injuries can cause the animal to limp for several weeks, there is little treatment available to justify bringing them into captivity. You can assess what may be causing a limp using this article.


When to leave alone #

A fawn on its own
It is perfectly normal for deer to leave their young alone. Observe from a distance and do not touch the baby. Contact a rescue for advice if the baby is in danger, looks unwell or there’s no sign of Mum after about six hours.

A deer ‘trapped’ in a garden/plot of land/urban area
Rescues often get calls about deer in areas enclosed by fencing. As a rule, if they got in, they can get out. There’s more on this here – Trapped Deer.


Next Steps #

Never attempt to handle an adult deer yourself. The potential threat posed by antlers is obvious but even deer without antlers can inflict fatal injuries. They have incredibly powerful rear legs and very sharp hooves and can kick out to defend themselves causing serious harm.

If an adult deer is collapsed and it is safe to do so you can approach the deer carefully and put a coat or blanket over its head. This will help to stop the deer becoming too stressed. Deer in these situations will usually freeze and lay still, making no attempt to get away. This does not mean they’re tame so please never take this as permission to sit and stoke them! They are not calm, they are literally paralysed with fear. Retreat to a safe distance and try to keep other people away from the animal while you wait for help.

If the deer is in the road the police will usually attend to help ensure the safety of the deer and road users.

Finding Help #

You can find details of rescues in your area by searching our directory. If you're unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, we have information about sources of bespoke help. We also have articles with detailed, practical advice about capturing an animal, providing short term care, contacting a wildlife rescue, and getting the animal to them.

Updated on May 28, 2024