VIDEO of a herd of hungry deer begging motorists for food at the roadside has sparked warnings the wild animals are becoming too dependent on humans.
Justyna Cichon, from Edinburgh, was passing through Glen Etive in the Highlands two weeks ago when she spotted five of the majestic creatures and decided to stop.
The 34-year-old, her partner Lucas Dabkiewicz and son Wayne, were amazed by how tame the creatures were – even sticking their noses in the car window.
However, the footage has sparked concerns among animal campaigners that the red deer are becoming too dependant on humans – seeing passing cars as a way to get food.
Cleaner Justyna uploaded the clip to Facebook with the caption: “Hungry deer.”
The clip shows a curious stag, with a picturesque mountain scene behind him, repeatedly sticking his nose in Justyna’s car window looking for food.
Justyna also filmed her partner Lucas and son Wayne feeding a doe a banana.
The fearless female deer stands inches away from the young boy and his dad, and takes the banana right out of his hand.
Wayne also feeds the doe, who waits expectantly for the other half of the banana.
Speaking today, Justyna said: “I was really excited and happy to see them so close. They were really friendly and calm.
“We fed them bananas and pears, but other people fed them carrots.”
But Charles Smith-Jones, Technical Advisor at the Deer Society, said: “Deer are great opportunists and these have clearly learned to overcome their natural fear of man in return for an easy mouthful or two.
“Regrettably, feeding deer and other wild animals at roadsides only encourages them to hang around such places hoping for a handout, and greatly increases the risk of a collision with a vehicle.
“It is estimated that as many as 74,000 deer are involved in road traffic accidents every year, resulting in over 450 human injuries which include fatalities.”
He added: “While it is tempting to feed deer from the hand great care needs to be taken. Wild and even park deer can be nervous animals and a sudden fright might cause them to lash out.
“There is really no need for humans to feed wild deer, as they should usually find all that they need naturally. Indeed, for biological reasons, it can actually take their stomachs some time to adapt to any new items of diet that they are not used to.”
Mimi Bekhechi, Director of International Programmes PETA, said today: “While this video reminds us that children naturally see animals as friends, not food, parents shouldn’t allow youngsters to feed wild animals, as doing so can pose risks to both the children and the animals.
“PETA encourages drivers to slow down if they spot animals next to or near the road – and we urge everyone not to interfere in animals’ lives, since they’re already under increasing pressure as a result of shifting landscapes and human development.”
On social media, Billy Watson said: “Somebody is going to get a sore one. These deer are too tame.”
Kevin Urquhart wrote: “There is plenty of food on the hills for the deer but because people feed them with crisps, chocolate, and sweets, as soon as they see a car they are straight there looking for more.
“These deer are wild animals and someone is going to get seriously hurt. I love to see these wild animals the same as the next person but we have to draw the line somewhere.”
While Karen Brown said: “To all the people that want to go here and see the deer, please don’t feed them. I’m sure the last thing we all want is them getting dependent on crisps and chocolate leave them to feed in their natural habitat.”
In 2015 two men sparked outrage when they fed Irn-bru and crisps to a deer in the Highlands.
At the time, Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We would discourage members of the public from hand-feeding any wild animals.
“An improper diet could lead to digestive upset and other health issues. It could also be dangerous for the person feeding the animal.”