Scotland’s recreational deer stalkers left out in the cold

A deer

BASC Scotland has reinforced its calls for a community deer management pilot scheme in light of a new round of Scottish government deer contracts.

The Scottish government agency responsible for managing publicly owned forestry – Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) – has announced plans to cull a fifth of Scotland’s wild deer population over the next five years, awarding a five-year tender worth up to £30 million of taxpayers’ money for ten regional contracts.

In response to the move, BASC Scotland has renewed its calls on FLS to establish a pilot project, through its ‘Our Deer – Community Integrated Deer Management in Scotland’ vision which launched last September.

The vision, which is being brought forward by a partnership of 11 leading deer management stakeholders, aims to institutionalise what is being described as ‘community integrated deer management’. This involves establishing more opportunities for trained recreational deer stalkers to manage deer on public land in their local area.

Scotland’s deer population is estimated to be in excess of one million, but many trained recreational deer stalkers in Scotland struggle to access deer management opportunities locally.

BASC Scotland believes that the inclusion of recreational stalkers and community larders could provide significant opportunities in remote and rural areas, reduce the burden on public finances, as well as help Scotland reach net zero emissions targets by reducing the carbon footprint of food entering the local supply chain.

BASC Scotland Public Affairs Manager Peter Clark said: “We recognise that Forestry and Land Scotland must have contracts in place to manage deer on publicly-owned land, but there has to be many more opportunities for recreational deer stalkers.

“The Scottish government should ask all statutory agencies and local authorities to conduct a review of their deer management leases, which would identify public landholdings which could be managed by recreational deer stalkers in their local area.

“This would be dependent on the success of any future pilot scheme, however we know among BASC members there is an appetite to contribute and stalk locally to bring high quality venison into the food supply chain.

“In our correspondence with FLS regarding the pilot scheme, we stated that deer management must be more localised, and if we are to celebrate the success of local produce, recreational stalkers must be given the opportunity to contribute to that story.”