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Public warned to avoid Best of Bushy


It was for the purposes of hunting them that Henry VIII first brought red deer to Bushy Park, near Hampton Court Palace in south-west London.

Now, in the throes of a mating season turned unseasonably hot – and with British deer numbers apparently at their highest since the Norman invasion – the animals' violent sexual courtship has started to claim victims from other species. First a swan was set upon. Then last week a woman was attacked and knocked to the ground by a rampaging stag in the Royal Park.

Now a man in his fifties has been tipped on his back by one animal. The "Beast of Bushy" – a rogue stag – is one of about 320 red and fallow deer that inhabit the 1,100-acre park. He controls the largest group – of some 60-odd animals – and has settled in one of the park's busiest areas.

"You see people trying to feed them; going right up to them," said Daniel Tudoriou, 23, who works at an ice-cream stall a few dozen yards from where "the Beast" has installed his harem of females.

A spokesman for the Royal Parks warned: "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."