The Scottish Government has outlined a raft of changes to its centuries-old wildlife and environment laws in a controversial consultation that was published on 15 June. The Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill consultation, which runs until 4 September, proposes scrapping the national male deerstalking season, introducing compulsory stalking competence training and a new mandatory stalking register.

Other proposals include amending game licences under the 1860 Game Licences Act, eradicating the need to hold a game dealing licence and removing the restriction on dealing in gamebirds during the close season. Proposals on the muirburn regulations and snaring are also included.

Launching the consultation, environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Current legislation contains anomalies and weaknesses which need to be addressed to ensure Scotland has suitable structures in place to manage and sustain its wildlife and the natural environment.

”Though Scottish shooting organisations have welcomed the proposals affecting land management, they have condemned the new deer management proposals, which were written by the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS). BASC Scotland’s Dr Colin Shedden told Shooting Times: “While the sections on reforming the Game Acts and on muirburn reflect much-needed change, the same cannot be said for the proposals on deer management. Mandatory testing of all stalkers, the removal of male deer close seasons and a possible increase in night shooting is causing massive concern for all stalkers, both professional and recreational.”

The rest of this article appears in 18th June issue of Shooting Times.

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