Planned compulsory competence testing for deer stalkers in Scotland has been scrapped after extensive lobbying from the deer sector including the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). This proposal had been expected to be part of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill but this particular proposal has now been shelved. The proposal could have meant the estimated 20,000 people actively involved in deer management in Scotland having to pass a mandatory test.
However, there will be an enabling power for Ministers to introduce a testing requirement, should it be deemed necessary, as well as a review of the situation in 2014.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is one of the main providers of deer stalker training in Scotland but was a principal objector to the introduction of mandatory testing. This was due to the fact that the proposals could have made existing qualifications redundant and could have required stalkers resident in Scotland having to demonstrate a higher level of competence that those from elsewhere in the world.. Thousands of stalkers will now be spared the cost of taking new examinations and considerable amounts of public money will also be saved by not establishing a “register” for deer stalkers.
BASC Scotland’s press and policy officer, Nicolle Upton, said: “BASC Scotland uncovered misleading guidance regarding deer stalking fatalities in the consultation document for the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill. . The guidance given to the public in the consultation was therefore misleading and undermined the already weak evidence supporting the argument that deer stalking represents ‘a potential risk to public safety’.”
“After months of lobbying we are relieved that the Scottish Government has recognised the sectors concerns and removed the requirement for competence testing. Scotland already has one of the best safety records in the world; attributable to the high standards adhered to by our experienced stalkers and the voluntary training taken up by newcomers. We continue to support industry-led voluntary training, believe that the Deer Management Qualification Level 1 is more than adequate and that Government control is both unnecessary and would act as a disincentive for vital deer management.”
Photograph credit BASC / Rob Douglas.