NEWLY-born fawns at a popular park are being abandoned by their mothers because people are stroking them.
The warning comes from the owners of Dallam Tower Deer Park, who have urged the public to remain on footpaths and not to approach young deer.
Dallam Estate said it had found an increasing number of problems caused by people approaching newly-born fawns in the park after they have been left alone by their mothers.
Many do not realise the problems caused by leaving their scent on a newly-born deer, the owners said.
It is normal behaviour for deer to leave their young alone temporarily, but if a mother deer smells a human scent on their fur once they return, they will subsequently abandon the fawn.
Deer usually give birth away from the footpaths used by the public, so the estate urges visitor to remain on them and not approach the wildlife.
“We would like to advise everyone that wild animals, particularly their young should never be approached and stroked," said a spokesman.
“Deer do leave their young alone shortly after they have been born to protect the young, which generally hide in the nettle beds.
“Touching and leaving human scent on a young wild animal may very well lead to that youngster being abandoned by the mother.
“The Dallam Deer Park is not a recreational park; it is private agricultural land used for deer, sheep and cattle grazing.
“We are also aware that a member of the public was recently seen approaching a fawn and carried it away.
“This action was probably well intentioned but unfortunately misguided.
“Access to the public is only on the public footpaths through the deer park, which are clearly marked.
“We would ask the public to respect the private nature of the land and the livestock and wildlife that thrives in the deer park.
"Additional information signs are being put up due to the exceptional level of access being experienced at present.
"The estate asks that people stay on the public footpaths and keep all dogs on a lead or under close control at all times.”