The ongoing Assynt deer situation

ADMG does not in principle oppose the use by SNH of its statutory powers as a last resort where a DMG is unable to bring all of its members into collaborative management conforming to an agreed Deer Management Plan.

SNH was criticised by some during the recent deer sector review for not using all of its 1996 Deer (Scotland) Act powers, mainly Section 8 Control Schemes, in circumstances where such a course of action might have been justified.

SNH has now determined to take a more assertive approach and is clearly seeking candidate landholdings associated with designated sites in unfavourable condition where it can test its full array of statutory powers.  ADMG reiterates that any such actions must be based on clear and undisputed evidence both of failure to take effective remedial measures on habitats in unfavourable condition, and of evidence of underperformance by the landholdings concerned.

In the case of Assynt there is a general recognition of a longstanding failure of collaborative management in addressing the condition of a protected site.  However, over the last year the Assynt Peninsula DMG has developed a draft Deer Management Plan and we understand that there are early signs of progress, not least in the recovery of the birch woods.  We would be concerned if the testing of Section 8 of the 1996 Act in Assynt were to undermine a recovering DMG.

Further context and comment on the Assynt situation is available here:

Deer Management on the Assynt Peninsula SNH Board Paper, 30 June 2017
The Assynt deer argument – what is it all about?
A report by Victor Clements, July 2017

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