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A call for views on deer management in Scotland

A recent call for views by the Scottish Government detailed in it the proposals to introduce a number of legislative changes relating to the management of deer in Scotland. Stakeholders had an opportunity to comment on subjects, such as the reduction of the minimum bullet weight to shoot deer in Scotland, night vision equipment to shoot deer and the abolition of the closed season for male deer.

There is an understanding and agreement that deer populations have to be reduced as deer numbers are at highest levels since the last ice age, but there is also a way to go about achieving this common goal. Localised deer management groups have successfully managed herds and numbers for decades and the collaborative effect has meant that deer have generally remained healthy, with the strongest possible DNA being passed on. Rarely do we shoot the biggest deer. He is left to breed and ensure that the herd is in good condition before he is taken after he is passed his best and before he reaches the point where he cannot retain health during Winter months. Thought must be explored into the culling of female deer in order to reach the desired population levels as this will have the most significant effect. One can’t help but think that ScotGov are taking the easy option of targeting male deer all year round in order to reach their targets, but it isn’t quite as simple as that.

There is a general agreement within our sector that night vision equipment could also be used to better effect. The technology available now is very different to what was available ten years ago, and much of it is quite affordable too. If we introduce a minimum level of competency to the equation, then there is no reason why deer numbers can’t be managed even more effectively as they are now.

There remains some contention over the reduction of the minimum legal bullet weight for larger species from 100 grains to 80. Many estates have operated with a minimum 100gn policy for decades, but the conversion to non-lead ammunition has meant that we have had to re-think this approach as the most popular calibre (.243) cannot commonly stabilise a non-lead 100gn bullet in flight. Having peeked south of the border, it is clear that the 80gn does the trick, and so an agreement to support the move to this minimum level in Scotland has been reached and is likely to be implemented.

To find out more and read the Wild Deer Best Practice Guide, click here.


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