A review of the practices surrounding deer authorisations for Scottish Natural Heritage has made several positive recommendations regarding transparency, research and training, as well as concluding that “evidence clearly demonstrated the importance of and need to ensure out of season and night shooting control is available to support key public policy objectives as well as private interests.”

After hearing evidence from a number of organisations, including BASC, The British Deer Society, the Scottish Alliance for Country Sports and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, the panel submitted a report that advocates the publication of authorisation guidelines, application details (excluding sensitive personal data) and annual deer cull data, as well as calling for common sense measures to improve the application process. These measures include taking collaborative deer management plans into account, considering increasing the period of site specific authorisations beyond the current 12-month maximum and making repeat assessments based on risk rather than simply revisiting them every three years.

Lastly, the report makes several recommendations about training and research to ensure humane, evidence-based practices continue to be developed and deployed to control deer populations. These include ensuring that trained gundogs continue to play a role following up wounded animals, considering permission for the use of night vision in culling and reviewing the demand for the April and September shooting of females.

A spokesman for the SACS said, “SACS welcomes the principle of more opportunity for local and recreational stalkers – they are an under-utilised and vital tool in sustainable deer management.”

SNH’s director of operations, Nick Halfhide, commented, “We welcome the deer panel’s report and agree with its findings. Out-of-season and night shooting are important tools in deer management across the country. We will now be working with partners to see how best to deliver the improvements recommended over the next six months. I would like to thank the Panel members for all their work as well as the organisations and individuals who have contributed to the review process.”

Read the full report here


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