Trust welcomes Land Reform Review Group’s deer recommendations

We welcome the analyses and recommendations made on deer management in Scotland by the Land Reform Review Group.

The John Muir Trust has welcomed the analyses and recommendations made on deer management in Scotland by the Land Reform Review Group, published last week.

Section 32 of the report, Wild Deer, recognises that ‘Scotland’s population of native red and roe deer are important national assets that should be sustainably managed in the public interest’.

The report also notes that for 50 years, despite repeated warnings by the responsible authorities (Red Deer Commission; Deer Commission Scotland; Scottish Natural Heritage), wild deer numbers have continued to rise. Consequently, there are a range of negative social, economic, animal welfare and environment impacts.

Among its proposals, the Land Reform Review Group recommends that changes should be made to the current statutory framework governing deer managements including:

  • Giving SNH responsibility for determining the cull levels required in the public interest within each Deer Management Group area
  • Requiring land owners to apply for consent for the number of deer they plan to cull, to enable SNH to identify situations where proposed culls would not be sufficient to protect the public interest.

The Trust’s Head of Land and Science, Mike Daniels, said: “The John Muir Trust is especially concerned about the damage that unsustainably high deer numbers inflict on our woodlands and other important habitats.

“We very much agree with the Review Group’s conclusion that there has been limited progress in addressing deer management issues in Scotland despite many years of debate.

“The report makes clear that Scotland has one of the least regulated deer management systems in Europe and the current ‘voluntary approach’ means that landowners can pretty much manage deer however they want, regardless of environmental impacts.

“We completely support the report’s recommendation that ‘improvements should be made to the current statutory framework governing the hunting of deer in Scotland to ensure appropriate culls are carried out to adequately safeguard public interests’.

“We would urge the Scottish Government to adopt the recommendations and keenly await its response.”

Download the report from the Scottish Government's website