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Doubts on deer management

The Scottish government’s consultation on deer has now closed.

The Scottish government’s new deer management nature restoration orders (DMNROs) continue to meet resistance in the sector. 

As we reported, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) declined to engage with the consultation that came up with the DMNROs, as well as an extension to the female deer season (News, 27 March). The consultation closed on 29 March.

Now, the Association of Deer Management Groups has expressed “deep concern”, calling the proposals the “most radical changes to deer management in living memory”.

It is feared that DMNROs could mandate the reduction of deer populations to yet unspecified levels, with fines of up to £40,000 for non-compliance.

James Scott, Scottish policy officer for the British Deer Society (BDS), told Shooting Times: “We don’t agree with DMNROs because we think there are other mechanisms that could be tweaked to achieve a similar effect. It is still unclear under what circumstances they would actually be used, and the notions of ‘enhancement’ and ‘restoration’ are yet to be defined. 

“However, over our discussions with NatureScot and the Scottish government we felt that they had learned lessons from previous consultations and this time they are paying more attention to the opinions of deer managers. The questions they have asked seem more genuine and the answers do not seem to be a foregone conclusion.”