Knoydart Deer Management

Published: 21st December 2015

Response to questions on Knoydart Deer Management on 18th December 2015

John Muir Trust response to Sir Patrick Grant.

“The John Muir Trust is always transparent about our deer management operations, and we have reported this figure to the West Knoydart Deer Management Group and Scottish Natural Heritage.

“As is well known, we have made great progress towards the regeneration of the award-winning Li and Coire Dhorrcail woodland, a unique outlier of the ancient Caledonian forest which was on the verge of extinction due to over-grazing before the Trust took over the management of this estate.

“The figure for last year’s cull (which was completed over two months ago) is significantly higher than usual because we can no longer rely on close season authorisations, which in the past allowed us to target stags in the winter months when they come down from the higher slopes to the regenerating woodland.

“Unfortunately, SNH have removed that option, and advised us instead to ‘maximise the cull in season’, which means by necessity taking out more stags than would come down to the control area during the winter close season.

 “Clearly there are differences of opinion over deer management between traditional sporting estates and those who strive to repair the ecological damage caused by centuries of overgrazing.

“To suggest, however, that the local economy is being destroyed because of the culling of 86 stags – just over one per cent of the 7,000-strong deer population on Knoydart – is simply scaremongering. Periodically, hundreds of deer starve to death in the area because the deer population is too high due to insufficient culling.

‘‘Finally, we would point out that the woodland and moorland habitats that the Trust is now regenerating provides food and shelter for deer, as well as helping the Scottish Government to meet its targets for woodland expansion and improvement.”

Lester Standen

John Muir Trust Deer Officer and Knoydart Property Manager