Wild deer impact (both positively and negatively) on a range of sectors including forestry, agriculture and sporting. Managing Scotland’s wild deer is a challenging task because of the need to balance various, often competing, interests including environmental, economic and welfare objectives.
The government agency responsible for deer is Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who assumed the responsibilities of the Deer Commission for Scotland during 2010. Scottish Land & Estates now works with SNH on deer management issues and collaborates closely with our colleague organisations ADMG (Association of Deer Management Groups) and BDS (British Deer Society).
Scotland’s Wild Deer: A National Approach published in 2008 is the Scottish Government’s national strategy for wild deer. This strategy represents a vision of sustainable deer management and aims to set out ways to make the most of wild deer as an asset, for the benefit of the nation, and at the same time ensuring that deer welfare is safeguarded. The strategy emphasised the need for collaboration between agencies and deer organisations as well as contributions from wider society. The strategy is accompanied by a series of annual action plans covering rolling 3 year periods.
A Code of Practice on Deer Management came into effect on 1 January 2012. SNH was required to produce the Code under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. Its purpose is to provide practical guidance in respect of deer management and is relevant to all those who manage land on which wild deer are found or who manage wild deer on someone else’s land. The Deer Code supports a voluntary approach to deer management but also identifies when and how SNH may become involved. Scottish Land & Estates was been part of the SNH steering group which assisted in the development of the Code.
The 2008 strategy and the Code are supported by Wild Deer Best Practice Guidance comprising a set of best practice guides which have been developed by the deer sector as an aid to deer management.
Guidance and Legislation
The Code of Practice on Deer Management came into force on 1 January 2012.