Deer management to be scrutinised by MSPs


The effectiveness of the current system of managing Scotland’s deer population is to be scrutinised by MSPs on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

The Committee will take evidence from a range of organisations that have a strong interest in managing deer numbers. Hearing the issues from those with expertise in the area will allow the Committee to scope out any future work on this issue.

Convener of the Committee, Rob Gibson MSP said:

“The issue of how we manage our deer populations and their social, economic and environmental impacts can be a controversial one. These issues have also divided some local communities.

“This is why our Committee wants to take a level-headed look at the issues with organisations that are at the forefront of both managing our deer populations and also managing their impact”.


The Committee will begin to take evidence on this issue at its meetings on 13 November and 20 November, where it will hear from the following witnesses:

13 November 2013

• Panel 1 – John Muir Trust; Scottish Wildlife Trust; and RSPB Scotland; and

• Panel 2 – Association of Deer Management Groups; Scottish Land and Estates; and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

20 November 2013

• Scottish Natural Heritage;

• The Forestry Commission;

• The Cairngorms National Park Authority;

• Professor John Milne (former Chairman of the Deer Commission).

Most wild deer populations are subject to some degree of management by man. This takes two forms, hunting or “stalking” by shooting with high velocity rifles, or fencing, either to keep deer in or out. Around 100,000 deer are culled each year in Scotland. Since the mid-1990s the number of deer culled each year has remained relatively constant.

Deer Management Groups (DMGs) have been established over the last 30 years to coordinate deer management between neighbouring landowners, and to manage conflicts which can arise where different land uses require different densities of deer. There are currently 49 groups, 42 which cover upland areas and 7 which cover lowland areas. Deer Management Groups are voluntary and are run by representatives of the landholdings in the group’s area.

Wild deer play an important part in Scotland’s rural economy, are integral to biodiversity and provide food and recreational opportunities. However, they can also have impacts on the natural environment, forestry and agriculture, and road safety.

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