Let stalking essential for Scottish deer sector

A survey undertaken in May by the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG), Lowland Deer Network Scotland (LDNS) and the Scottish Venison Association (SVA) has found that if there is no let stalking this year for stags, hinds, roe bucks or roe does then the 103 respondent businesses will lose in excess of £2.5 million.

The research was undertaken to establish what the financial loss would be to those letting upland and lowland stalking, given the restrictions on UK
and foreign travel imposed under current Covid-19 regulations and social distancing rules, and how this might affect 2020/21 cull plans.

Richard Cooke, Chairman of the ADMG, said: “This survey gives us some very valuable insight into the potential impact on deer management businesses… our sample represents just under one third of the sector, so the consequential loss of let stalking being impossible can be estimated at around £9 million total before any impact from downgraded venison sales is also taken into account.

“While this is a worst-case scenario, there will be some effect due to cancelled bookings and the difficulties of organising Covid-safe stalking with guests. The ADMG expect disruption and significant economic damage including potential job losses, both part time and seasonal.

“We must also recognise the loss to the wider rural economy from the income that this type of sporting tourism generates,” Richard continues, “ADMG is also working with other bodies to advise Scottish Government in the provision of advice on how to conduct deer management and other outdoor activities with social distancing taken into account.

“ADMG’s firm advice must be to take planned culls in full to avoid future problems with deer numbers but a high degree of cooperation with processors will be necessary to ensure that the venison supply chain can remain operable throughout the coming months.”

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