Duncan Orr-Ewing, Convener of Scottish Environment LINK’s Deer Group, said:
“We welcome the overwhelming decision by the Scottish Parliament yesterday to approve secondary legislation to remove the season for male deer and to permit the use of night vision equipment to facilitate deer management. This is part of a package of measures recommended by the independent Deer Working Group to modernise and to facilitate sustainable deer management in the public interest and in the wider context of the climate and nature emergency.
“Deer populations in Scotland have increased rapidly in the past 60 years, when the deer seasons were originally brought in, and it is now estimated that there are over 1 million deer in Scotland. Deer have no natural predators so need to be managed by humans to levels that their habitats can support and to prevent damage to a wide variety of public outcomes for both biodiversity and human health – for example road safety and reduction in Lyme disease. The current overpopulation of deer in many parts of Scotland is causing significant damage to native woodlands, to peatlands and to wider biodiversity through both excessive browsing levels and trampling. It is essential that we use the skills and experience of deer managers in delivering the changes we need as a society. The majority of deer management is carried out on private estates and their contribution and commitment is vital. The transition needs to be just to ensure livelihoods and cultural traditions are respected while adapting to change and new ways of working.
“Sustainable deer management and the reduction of deer populations is identified as a key outcome of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. We look forward to further primary legislation intended to deliver sustainable deer management as part of the Natural Environment Bill, expected to go out to public consultation shortly.”
Image: Mae Mackay