The National Farmers? Union (NFU), the Deer Initiative (DI), and the National Gamekeepers? Organisation, in conjunction with the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), have launched a new campaign to encourage land owners to liaise with stalkers and tenant farmers to devise a proper strategy for managing the deer on their land.

The move was prompted by the results of recent research carried out by deer biologist, Professor Rory Putman, into crop damage by sika deer in the Poole Basin in Dorset.

Professor Putman concluded that few private landowners and managers are willing to take responsibility for deer on their land.

He suggested this may, in part, be because many have let deer management to professional stalkers and no longer feel any need for personal involvement.

The group of organisations wants landowners to draw up strategies that set out the cull target, species and sex of the deer to be culled.

Stalkers then shoot the deer in accordance with the management plan.

The agreement does not grant the stalker any exclusive rights, however.

The group wants landowners to retain the right to bring in additional stalkers if the cull target is not being met.

Peter Watson, of the DI, explained landowners have a responsibility to help safeguard the crops of tenant farmers: ?In the past few months the issue of damage to agricultural crops caused by deer has been raised by a number of our partners. We have been working with them to address specifically the problems faced by tenant farmers who do not hold the sporting rights and therefore have limited options to reduce the damage. It is hoped the campaign will give them a bigger voice when it comes to arranging deer management plans.?

Some landowners are concerned that introducing deer management plans could conflict with the stalkers already leasing the land, however.

?It is said that for the letting of stalking rights to be profitable for landowners, there needs to be a plentiful supply of stags, and that means maintaining populations at high levels,? said the CLA?s Christopher Price.

He added: ?This view is misconceived. It is perfectly possible to combine profitable stalking with effective management.?

Over the next few months, the CLA will be ensuring landowners are aware of how to go about devising achievable deer management plans.

?Many land managers are already aware of their deer management responsibilities, but there is a large number who need to take a more active role to help reduce the damage caused by deer to crops. We need to make sure that landowners put together proper deer management strategies that take stalkers? needs into account,? Mr Price concluded.

BASC?s head of deer management, Alan McCormick, said he was happy to see a more focused strategic approach to the management of deer, especially in areas where their numbers are causing substantial problems for agricultural and forestry interests.

?There are many conflicting concerns that need to be considered by landowners and the generation of income from stalking leases should not necessarily be the prime factor or motivator,? he added.

Stalker Graham Downing, from Suffolk, told Shooting Times magazine any contract existing between the stalker and the landowner must be fair to both: ?On the one hand the stalker must enjoy some security, otherwise what is the point of having a lease at all? On the other, the landowner can expect the stalker to put in sufficient effort to meet agreed targets, whether these are numerical or impact-based. However, there must be sufficient flexibility to accommodate the wide range of agreements which owners and stalkers will wish to strike. One size very definitely does not fit all.?

Let us know what you think about this!

  • Sarah Mitchel

    Oh dear, I wonder if these comments are regarding the same person that I have come across on my walks?!
    Are people aware that these deer are in fact grazing SSSI land? I think someone has already informed the CCW regarding this issue and they were told that feeding stations have been found in woodland behind Mr Allan Mc’Cormicks rented property ‘Rock Cottage.’ Very unsavoury character from locals accounts…
    What concerms me however is who is responsible for the problem of these deer causing vehicular damage and not to mention personal injury if accidents are caused by them seemingly roaming free?
    When I enquired where they had come from to head office BASC I was told amazingly they had strolled in from St Asasph. Do they think we are totally uneducated in Wales? It is the Landowners responsibility to be rid of these deer especially on SSSI land and I feel a fining process very heavy one at that should be imposed on landowners throughout the country if they dont get rid of them I note last comment re deer fencing ahem are you aware of how much deer fencing is? and LOL who do you think would pick up the bill? erm not the landowner in this case im afraid but the Welsh Assembly (our money) yet again being disposed of haphazardly….double standards is all I can finish on.

  • Gav

    White deer have appeared on land managed by Alan McCormick head of BASC deer management – they are not tagged and no deer fencing is present. It has been claimed that these deer are wild however they have never been seen before – despite being frequently spotted now. These deer are causing damage to peoples land. Is it illegal to move deer without them being tagged? It is worrying that the person in charge of deer management does not seem to be able to manage deer on his own land never mind advise others

  • Ron Davies

    I am surprised of the comments below when this person will not help the local community with the straying of deer that has appeared on his partners family land.
    BASC’s head of deer management, Alan McCormick, said he was happy to see a more focused strategic approach to the management of deer, especially in areas where their numbers are causing substantial problems for agricultural and forestry interests.

    “There are many conflicting concerns that need to be considered by landowners and the generation of income from stalking leases should not necessarily be the prime factor or motivator,” he added.