Statement from ADMG re publication of Deer Working Group Report

Richard Cooke, Chairman, The Association of Deer Management Groups, said:

“Many of the recommendations contained in the Deer Working Group (DWG) report published today concern tidying up and updating current legislation, and these are broadly welcome.

“But fundamentally this report is about further heavy reductions in deer numbers which would have a devastating effect on an important rural industry in the remoter parts of Scotland and there is a real danger if we continue to demonise deer that we overlook the multiple other impacts on our environment. Sheep for example, despite heavy reductions, still outnumber deer 2 to 1 across the hills of northern Scotland and share their habitat with deer.  Let’s also not forget the significant value of deer as an asset not least in terms of tourism and as a healthy food source.

“We also question repeated calls for a drastic cull when our red deer densities as cited in SNH’s report Assessing progress in deer management published just in November last year are now down to an average of 9.3 per sq km which is already less than the maximum proposed in the Deer Working Group report.

“The DWG report also recommends a much higher level of government intervention which will come at considerable public cost – and a great deal more engagement from SNH than there is at present. Our view is that across the upland deer range the collaborative deer management group (DMG) system under the voluntary principle is proven and working increasingly well. While other management models may be appropriate in other parts of Scotland the DMGs are a vital part of any solution. The latest SNH report to Scottish Government supports this.

“Whilst there is always room for improvement the DMG system is rising to the challenge and delivering against ambitious climate change targets where it has a major role to play, both in terms of peatland restoration and native woodland expansion for example.”

The ADMG paper Rising to the challenge outlining our vision for the future management of wild deer in Scotland’s uplands is available.