A new report on Scotland’s deer populations has called for a “hardened” approach to deer stalking, incorporating higher cull targets and more rural stalking jobs.
The report comes ahead of an official Scottish Government-commissioned review of deer management, which is due to be published soon.
It also calls for an increase in amateur stalking and reduced use of deer fences.
Colin Shedden of BASC Scotland summed up the report as “a series of mixed recommendations”. He was broadly supportive of them, but warned that some of them were slightly confused and misinformed.
He said: “There are fewer than 26,000 individuals in Scotland with legal access to rifles to cull deer – less than 0.5 per cent of the population.
“It takes much in the way of time, dedication and training for individuals to obtain the required skills and experience to manage deer populations properly, and it is unrealistic to assume that such a change could happen quickly.
“A significant proportion of lowland culling is already undertaken by recreational deer stalkers at their own cost. A recent study of an area in central Scotland showed that the vast majority of the 5,000-6,000 culled deer were shot by recreational stalkers. This shows that public participation in deer management is already high in some areas.
“The publication is also critical of the role upland shooting estates play in the management of deer. Paying clients from all over the world help to supplement the good work that is already undertaken by professional deer managers.
“Moreover, it is often the shooting estates that front the bill to employ professional deer managers. We argue that it is vital to maintain this contribution alongside increased public participation.”