Following remarks by Rob Gibson MSP, Chairman of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee that there should be an enquiry into Scotland’s deer management group system, Richard Cooke, Chairman, The Association of Deer Management Groups, says:
We have read Rob Gibson’s comments with interest following his recent visit to Assynt where he has clearly appreciated the complexity of deer management decision-making, and where there are potentially conflicting management objectives between neighbouring land holdings.
ADMG represents all deer managers throughout the Highlands and acknowledges the equal legitimacy of all management objectives that take proper account of the Code of Deer Management. We frequently emphasise the necessity of open communication and compromise within Deer Management Groups (DMGs) to enable them to go forward with a common purpose.
Conflict resolution is increasingly important for DMGs throughout the open deer range and is best addressed through the agreement of a Group deer management plan negotiated between members to reasonably meet the land management needs of all parties, including Government Agencies where designated sites are present.
At present that process takes place under the voluntary principle and generally works well. The regulatory approach to deer management groups proposed by Mr Gibson would not obviate the difficulties of reconciling ecological, economic and social objectives. Reconciliation cannot be compelled and there are existing mechanisms under deer legislation whereby SNH can impose solutions, either through a voluntary control agreement, known as a Section 7 Agreement, or under a Compulsory Control Order, Section 8.