ADMG launches consultation on Benchmark for Deer Management Groups at AGM

The Association of Deer Management Groups, the representative body for those who manage Scotland’s upland wild deer, has launched a consultation on a Benchmark for Deer Management Groups at its Annual General Meeting today (Thursday 20 February) at Kingussie.

The voluntary basis of management of Scotland’s wild deer has been under scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) which held an inquiry into deer management and the impact of deer on the environment.  The Committee has recently sent its report to the Minister.  This stops short of recommending a regulated approach and acknowledges progress by DMGs but states that bringing all Groups up to standard is a matter of urgency, suggesting a deadline of the end of 2016.

The Benchmark is intended to provide detailed guidance to Deer Management Groups on how they should operate effectively.  It will form part of the Joint Collaborative Deer Management Project which ADMG is undertaking along with Scottish Natural Heritage.

Richard Cooke, Chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups says:

“We are putting the ADMG draft Benchmark out to consultation to all our Member DMGs because it is crucial that they understand what they need to do if the voluntary basis of deer management is to be considered fit for purpose and to continue into the future.  It is targeted mainly at the Deer Groups that now exist across the open hill red deer range.

“The Benchmark outlines how DMGs should operate.  It covers membership, meetings, constitution; a commitment to deer management planning, adherence to the Code of Practice on Deer Management and the ADMG Principles of Collaboration; counting, cull planning and habitat condition monitoring; also training and having a communications plan.

“While many DMGs will have no problem in attaining what will be required, or indeed already do so, other Groups have a lot of ground to make up and need to take on board that this cannot be ignored and that urgent action is required.  ADMG will provide whatever support is needed to help them do so by providing training, advice and mentoring.

“The crux of the situation is that unless we can prove that the voluntary system can not only deliver the individual and collective objectives of DMG members but also meet the expectations of Government, then a statutory system remains a real possibility.”