Knoydart deer cull: Trust responds to Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The Trust has today responded to a press release issued by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

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The John Muir Trust has today responded to a press release issued by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, criticising the Trust's culling practices on Knoydart.

Mike Daniels, head of land management for the charity, said:

“As the Scottish Gamekeepers Association is well aware, many thousands of deer die on our hillsides each winter – including hundreds in the Knoydart area – because deer populations are too high and they are desperately seeking food and shelter. 

“These deaths from starvation and lack of woodland shelter are slow and painful – and are a direct consequence of management practices that aim for high deer numbers for sport shooting regardless of animal welfare or ecology.

“The number of deer we had to cull between July and October – just over one per cent of the total population on Knoydart – was higher than usual because we can no longer rely on close season authorisations, which would allow us to cull deer in the winter when they come down from the higher slopes.

“Consequently, extraction of deer carcasses is much harder, especially in one of the most difficult and inaccessible corners of Scotland. Where possible, venison was taken from any remaining carcasses, with the rest left for other wildlife.

“The SGA’s accusation of lack of engagement by the John Muir Trust is without foundation. The Trust was part of the Knoydart Deer Management group for many years where we tried unsuccessfully to get a resolution to high deer numbers. More recently we have been an active member, along with our neighbours, in the West Knoydart Deer Management Group.

“We are also a partner of the community-owned Knoydart Foundation which has played a major role in the social, economic cultural and ecological transformation of the peninsula over the past 20 years.

“We suspect that the main motivation for this attack from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association is to deflect attention away from Scotland’s unsustainably high deer population, which is coming under increasing scrutiny as land reform climbs up the political agenda.”