Watford Borough Council has warned dog walkers that leads may become compulsory if attacks on wildlife continue.

Several local authorities nationwide have introduced new rules after a recent spike in deer attacks.

The borough council’s head of parks, heritage and culture, Paul Rabbitts, told the Observer: “We have no current plan to make dog leads in parks compulsory but if the problems persist, we may have to take a harder line.”

It comes after police were called to Cassiobury Park last month following reports that two dogs chased a deer and tore “chunks of flesh” from its hind before it got stuck on a fence.

MORE: Dogs chased and attacked deer in Cassiobury Park

A spokesperson from Hertfordshire Constabulary said the deer was not found afterwards, but an eyewitness feared it could have died of shock or from the attack.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Terrible incidents like this could be avoided if dog owners ensure they are responsible and keep their pet on a lead around wildlife.

“Dog owners have a legal responsibility under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to keep their dog under control in a public place.”

Hillingdon Times: Deer parent and childDeer parent and child

Paul Rabbitts added: “Protecting the very precious ecosystems of plants, animals and other creatures that co-exist in our parks and green spaces is something Watford Borough Council takes very seriously.

“That’s why we have a bylaw in place and signage to remind people that their dogs must be kept under control at all times and in specific areas of our parks where there are nature trails and protected habitats for deer and other animals, dogs must be kept on leads.”

The RSPCA said it had not received reports relating to dogs and wildlife in Watford but urged anyone with concerns to call 0300 1234 999.