Landowners are being urged to take a more active role in the management of the UK’s deer populations.

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 landowners 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 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 that 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.

The rest of this article appears in 23 August issue of Shooting Times.

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