Representatives of the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG) met in April 2013 with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, who also has responsibility for deer issues.
The meeting was held to discuss the work of ADMG and progress made since the passing of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, and also the progress of the Lowland Deer Network Scotland (LDNS).
The meeting was attended by Richard Cooke, Chairman of ADMG and LDNS, and Finlay Clark, ADMG Secretary. The agenda covered ADMG’s role and relationship with the Scottish Government and its agencies, deer numbers and impacts, designated sites, Deer Management Groups and deer management planning, as well as issues such as competence and the emerging concept of ‘wild land’.
Richard Cooke said: “I think that there is good momentum with regard to the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act. Everybody in the sector has recognised the responsibilities embodied in the Code of Deer Management and are finding it helpful, particularly when drawing up or updating deer management plans.
“The legislation appears to have been taken seriously by those in the sector and, when it is reviewed, I am confident that we can show good progress.
“I think there is still work to do in raising awareness of the Code among those who cull deer on an occasional basis to protect their economic interests such as crops and tree, particularly in relation to competence.
“In an ideal world we would like anyone who takes a rifle to shoot a deer to be doing so under the same standards, but I think the introduction of the General Licence and the emphasis on training to demonstrate competence has been a helpful move in that direction.”
Regarding the Lowland Deer Network, Richard Cooke said: “The point of LDNS is to introduce a collaborative culture to the management of lowland deer. It’s about bringing a wide range of individuals and organisations that are involved with lowland deer together and adding value. The response has been very positive and I am immensely impressed by the commitment and professionalism of the many vocational deer managers who have become involved with the Network so far.
“In our second year what we are doing, having built the core, is to roll out local initiatives encouraging those on the low ground to recognise deer management as one of their responsibilities, to take advantage of training opportunities, and to work with each other.”
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change said: “The messages we have received back regarding the Act, the Code and deer management generally suggest that good progress is being made particularly in certain areas where previously concerns had been expressed.
“The low ground initiative fills a gap and, for the record, we very much welcome the work that is being done to establish the Lowland Deer Network and the contribution that it is making.”