Scottish Natural Heritage’s annual autumn survey has found that the Scottish public views deer as the type of wildlife it most associates with Scotland.
The survey asked 1,055 people for their views on species, habitats and wildlife management, and 73 per cent of those who responded chose deer as Scotland’s most iconic animal.
The next highest ranking creatures were golden eagles, grouse and red squirrels, which were named on 27, 26 and 25 per cent of survey responses respectively.
It wasn’t all positive feedback, however: the survey asked respondents what their principal concern was for the future of deer, and 28 per cent said it was “hunting”.
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said: “It is great to see deer once again inspiring a sense of nationhood in people when it comes to wildlife. The deer population is not, in any way, threatened in this country because it has been managed for over 150 years by the keepers on the hills, who have a wealth of knowledge.
“Scotland has a healthy deer population, and there needs to be more awareness of that and the role individuals such as gamekeepers play.
“Stalking is a valuable resource for the rural economy, keeping fragile communities alive.”