Overcoming deer management challenges

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Red deer populations normally range freely over estate boundaries, meaning problems can arise when adjacent estates have divergent management objectives. Estates wishing to manage primarily for biodiversity by regenerating native woodland or conserving peatland with minimal use of fencing often reduce deer populations through enhanced culling, which can negatively impact on the interests and business of adjacent traditional deer stalking estates. Issues between neighbours can hamper the ability of estates to carry out their management aims. The issues can be contentious; this study seeks to shed light not heat on the topic. West Highland case study estates were sought by word of mouth. We looked for case study pairs where issues between neighbours had been resolved or were on-going. Five case studies were carried out: two pairs of estates and one unpaired estate. Information was collected to allow characterisation of the estates, the nature of the issue with the neighbour, along with supporting information on the Habitat Impact Assessment (HIA) process, Deer Management Groups (DMGs), the participants’ views on fencing, and the key challenges faced by participants in relation to deer management. We found the deer management issues were only partially resolved, or were unresolved, with participants resigned to the problem. HIAs were being carried out in-house on the three ‘non traditional’ estates and by contract surveyors on the two ‘traditional stalking’ estates. Participants from the ‘traditional stalking’ estates felt positive about the use of deer fencing, while those from the ‘non-traditional’ estates held a variety of different views on fencing, from pragmatic support to being ‘anti-fence’. Participants from ‘traditional stalking’ estates felt the key challenge facing them was government interference, while those from ‘non-traditional’ estates were concerned by getting trees to regenerate, maintaining fences, and maintaining high levels of deer culling.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherScotland's Rural College (SRUC)
Number of pages12
Publication statusPrint publication - 28 Mar 2022


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