Wild deer have been spotted on a Huddersfield site slated for 2,500 homes.
Several deer have been snapped and filmed by golfers and walkers at Bradley Park Golf Course, the only public course in Kirklees.
Kirklees Council wants to offer the huge green space to developers as part of its Local Plan.
The news that deer, a partially protected species, are roaming on the land has given hope to campaigners wanting to save the course from builders.
Wild deer are protected and cannot be shot or captured without a licence.
Huddersfield-based planning expert, David Storrie, has said the discovery of deer is another reason for the council to think again.
But he has warned it is not a “showstopper” and planners could find ways to try and move the animals elsewhere.
Natural England, the government agency in charge of wildlife, said it was too early to comment on what would happen to the deer if planning permission was granted.
But a spokesman said it was likely that any developer wanting to use the site would have to do an environmental impact assessment and gain approval to deal with the animals.
Several golf club members have uploaded their videos of deer wandering and grazing in the trees.
Rod Jackson filmed deer close to the fifth fairway, also the location of a memorial to club stalwart Jim Taylor.
He said: “They were very timid and bolted off as I tried to get closer.
“I am a mid-week member and have seen the deer several times last year.
“Their footprints are always readily visible in the sand bunkers.”
Dog walker, Barbara Jessop, also filmed deer further down the valley in fields below the course.
Bradley resident Keith Hunter posted a picture of deer on the Save Bradley Park Facebook group.
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Mr Hunter said his picture was taken in Dyson Woods opposite the golf course on the other side of Bradley Road.
Mr Hunter said he frequently saw deer in the Bradley woods and had even seen them crossing the main road in the early hours.
Paul Williams posted to the group: “Just had a nice wet walk up on the golf course with our dog, and twice we have seen four female roe deer wander across the course.”
Mr Storrie, a town planner who has advised on many housing schemes, said the council’s decision to target the course for thousands of homes was wrong “on a number of levels”.
“I’m not sure we could find anywhere else in Kirklees for a municipal golf course,” he said.
“Then we have these habitat issues. I don’t how they would relocate deer.
“It all starts to mount up against why this site should be released for houses. It’s not a showstopper but it all adds weight to the objections.”
Kirklees Council is running consultation on its Local Plan – a blueprint offering land for 29,000 homes – until February 1.
So far, more than 300 comments have been lodged about the proposal on the Local Plan website, the vast majority in opposition to the idea.