The Assynt Peninsula Sub Group of the West Sutherland Deer Management Group has been endeavouring to collaboratively reduce deer densities to a previously agreed target density of 7 deer per sq km. This population target goes beyond the 10 deer per sq km set out in the Deer Working Group recommendations and is based on delivering sustainable deer management as part of a landscape scale plan, taking into account local environmental as well as socio-economic interests.
ADMG has been actively engaged with the Sub Group with Tom Turnbull acting as chair for the last few years and good progress has been made. Following a recent helicopter count, cull targets for the Group were increased and it had been hoped that the deer numbers could be reduced whilst not negatively impacting on an important income stream to a remote rural community.
Tom Turnbull, Chairman, ADMG, says:
“It is disappointing that The John Muir Trust has withdrawn from the Group. The contributions of the Trust’s employees have been important over the last few years and have so far aided and supported a collaborative approach.
“It will place the Assynt Peninsula Sub Group in a difficult position as they try to continue to reduce deer numbers to avoid degradation on important designated sites whilst also endeavouring to maintain an important sporting asset that provides employment and income to the remote community. Deer wander and move according to pressure, weather, exclusion and disturbance. Without considering the landscape as a whole ADMG believes that the land management objectives of all members could be compromised.
“ADMG strongly promotes collaborative sustainable deer management that includes all land managers within a landscape and we are pleased that the highlands are one of the few areas of the UK where deer numbers are actually dropping whilst continuing to retain employment in rural areas. The situation on Assynt however vividly highlights the challenges that will be encountered in deer management in the highlands as deer managers are encouraged to achieve ambitious Scottish Government targets for the climate and biodiversity through deer reductions.”