TWO RSPCA officers saved a stricken deer who fell into a Hampshire swimming pool and may have spent all night in the water.

A householder at Ibsley in the New Forest called the animal welfare charity after spotting the fully-grown stag splashing around in the disused pool.

RSPCA Inspector Patrick Bailey said: “The homeowner stumbled across the deer when he went out to mow the lawn.

“He told us a herd of approximately 40 deer had visited their garden each evening so the stag may have been in the pool all night.

“The pool hadn’t been used for years and was full of rainwater. Thankfully, the heatwave had caused some of the water to evaporate so the pool wasn’t too deep, which meant the stag could touch the bottom and keep his head above water.”

Inspector Bailey and a colleague, animal collection officer Karen Gregor, used grasper poles to rescue the creature.

“We grabbed an antler each and hauled him out,” added Inspector Bailey. “He was very heavy and it was tricky to lift him up and out in order to clear the edge of the pool and avoid injuring him.

“Luckily the deer made an effort to jump, giving us enough momentum to pull him up and out.”

The 60kg stag is thought to have toppled into the pool accidentally.

Described as being tired but unhurt, the deer was released after being given a check-up.

Inspector Bailey said: “He was a little wobbly at first but soon found his feet and wandered off into the surrounding countryside.

“It was a lovely result and I’m so pleased we were able to save him. It could have easily had a much more tragic ending.”

The rescue comes three months after another RSPCA inspector, Alan Browning, saved the life of a deer which fell into a swimming pool in Hedge End.

An RSPCA spokesman said the charity always advised members of the public not to put themselves at risk to help an animal. The RSPCA’s 24-hour hotline is 0300 1234 999.