A new vision that will place communities at the centre of efforts to manage deer on publicly owned land in Scotland will be unveiled today (24 September) by a partnership of eleven leading deer management stakeholders.
The partnership aims to institutionalise what is being described as ‘community integrated deer management’ by establishing more opportunities for trained recreational deer stalkers to manage deer on publicly owned land in their local area.
In Scotland nearly 6,400 people hold the deer stalking certificate 1 (the introductory deer management qualification), while over 2,100 individuals hold the more advanced deer stalking certificate.
Despite having an estimated deer population of one million, many trained recreational deer stalkers in Scotland struggle to access deer management opportunities locally. This is especially true for those living near publicly owned land, where permissions are described as being ‘out of reach’ for recreational stalkers.
The organisations argue that current public expenditure on deer management contractors is ‘needlessly expensive’, and that utilising trained recreational deer stalkers would slash costs if they were afforded a more enhanced role in their local area. In 2019, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) – which manages approximately 9% of Scotland’s land area – expended £10.5 million on deer management contracts and just under £5 million on fencing.
The partnership is urging the Scottish Government to establish a pilot community deer stalking scheme on FLS land, in which a local recreational deer stalking syndicate would pay a small fee to take on the deer management obligations. It is envisaged that the harvested venison would be sold and consumed locally, thus reducing the overall carbon footprint.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) – the co-ordinating partner behind the vision – has pledged to support the syndicate, act as the liaison with FLS and develop replicable operating mechanisms so that other schemes can be established in the future.
The vision – entitled ‘Our Deer’ – will be launched at the Scottish Game Fair today (Friday 24 September). It outlines six recommendations for the Scottish Government to consider, as well as five commitments that will be honoured by the partnership.