Scottish shooting organisations have condemned controversial new proposals from the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS), which include scrapping Scotland’s close seasons for male deer, reducing the female deer close seasons and imposing compulsory qualifications for stalkers.

According to the DCS, the current deer legislation is in need of significant reform, and it believes it is time to “clarify expectations on deer managers”.

Professor John Milne, chairman of the DCS, defended the proposals. He told Shooting Times: “The advice is made up of a range of different measures to support a modern approach to the management of deer in Scotland. The current legislation was largely drafted more than 60 years ago, when deer were less widespread and welfare and environmental concerns less prevalent. These proposals are now with the Scottish environment minister, Michael Russell, and he is likely to consult widely on them this spring.”

However, organisations representing Scotland’s stalkers are alarmed by the
proposals.

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s (SGA) Alex Hogg said he
would be calling on all stalkers to write to the Scottish Government in protest that the latest plans amount to treating the country’s native wild animals as vermin: “We must take a strong stand and demonstrate to legislators that experienced deer managers are best placed to understand how Scotland’s iconic animal should be treated,” he said.

“Stalkers live among the deer every day of the year. They know how they behave, understand when they need to be left in peace at key periods in the year and can identify the individuals which need to be culled for the well-being of the herd. There’s no room for sentiment when you are managing a wild resource, but respect for these creatures is paramount.”


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