BASC Scotland has uncovered misleading information in the Scottish government?s consultation document for the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill.
The controversial proposals for deer management, which were formulated by the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS), recommend introducing a national register of qualified stalkers because there is some evidence of a potential risk to public safety.
To support this, the document stated there have been three fatalities associated with deerstalking in the past four years.
However, BASC Scotland has investigated these claims and the DCS has clarified its position: ?There have been three fatalities associated with the use of rifles in Britain in the past four years.?
Nicolle Upton, BASC Scotland?s press and policy officer, explained the anomaly: ?BASC?s research has shown that the three fatalities referred to in the document were not associated with deerstalking, stalkers or indeed Scotland. This means that the guidance given to the public in the document is misleading. The clarification now undermines the already weak evidence supporting the argument that deerstalking represents ?a potential risk to public safety?.?
Other Scottish pro-shooting organisations have said they are alarmed by BASC Scotland?s findings and say the discovery brings into question the quality of all the DCS?s proposals.
The Scottish Countryside Alliance?s (SCA) Ross Montague said there are a number of proposals which the SCA finds divisive: ?It is important when dealing with controversial issues that all of the facts presented by all parties are 100% correct. Misleading and wrong information does not help further discussion and we are therefore disappointed that these facts were not verified before publication.?
The Scottish Gamekeepers? Association?s Alex Hogg concurred: ?This finding highlights only one of the inaccuracies in the consultation. The flawed arguments in the document are in danger of undermining the future of stalking in Scotland.?
Responding to BASC Scotland?s findings, the DCS? Alastair MacGugan told Shooting Times magazine: ?The DCS apologises if the text in the consultation was in any way misleading. This was not our intention. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that three people were killed by rifles. The proposal that stalkers must demonstrate competence to kill deer can only help but assure the public that stalking can be carried out safely and humanely.?