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 extremely dangerous and you should never attempt to handle one yourself. ALWAYS call a specialist to assist you.
Be sure to contact an independent wildlife centre such as one of those on our listings. Organisations such as the RSPCA and police commonly refer deer calls to the British Deer Society. This is in fact a deer management organisation involved in the culling of deer and they usually shoot injured deer. They do not have facilities for their treatment and return to the wild.
Sadly it is now illegal to release muntjac 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 us 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 help.
You can find a wildlife rescue in your area by putting your location into the search facility on our map page.
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
Rescues often get calls about deer in areas enclosed by fencing. As a rule, if they got in, they can get out. Deer can jump higher than you might think. Removing a deer from an area like this would be extremely dangerous and would likely involve darting the animal for the safety of the deer and rescuers. Let them find their own way out wherever possible.
Capture, Containment and Care
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! He is not calm he is 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.
NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.