Bold new vision places communities at the heart of deer management obligations

Press Release

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 at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair by a partnership of eleven leading deer management stakeholders including SLE.

The partnership, which will be launched by BASC, 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 2.

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.

In addition, BASC and the British Deer Society (BDS) – who both deliver deer management qualifications – have pledged to provide discounted training courses to recreational deer stalkers with ambitions of managing deer in their local area, in a bid to upskill communities and make deer stalking more accessible.

The partnership is also going further, however, and recommending that the Scottish Government establish a £250,000 deer management training fund. The fund would enable BASC and BDS to deliver the deer stalking certificate 1 to well-over a thousand students free of charge over an eight-year period.  

Karen Ramoo, Policy Adviser (Forestry, Conservation & Wildlife Management) at SLE, said:

“SLE is pleased to be part of this partnership’s commitment to encourage the Scottish Government to recognise and support the merits of community integrated deer management.

"Wild deer are an important asset for Scotland and managed sustainably wild deer produce a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits both locally and in the wider public interest.

“Local deer managers and stalkers are highly skilled, respectful and carry out best practice when managing deer. By utilising and targeting training to local communities, integrated deer management can become more sustainable and ensure deer welfare standards are protected."

If you haven't done so already, you can book your tickets for the GWCT Scottish Game Fair here.