The proposal, for which a consultation is being conducted until the end of February, has caused consternation in the deerstalking community, with the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG) expressing concern that the plan has: “The potential to do the deer sector no favours.”

The proposed merger is part of the Scottish National Party’s aim to reduce the number of public organisations from 199 to 121. Critics argue that, despite the proposed cuts, the Scottish Government has introduced as many as 76 new bodies since it took power.

Richard Cooke, secretary of the ADMG, called the plan to merge the two rural bodies: “The worst possible outcome of the Scottish Government’s review of its rural sector agencies”.

He outlined the group’s concerns, saying: “ADMG would have supported a proposal to set up a new single agency for all rural affairs streamlined into appropriate divisions, of which deer matters would be one and natural heritage another. However, what is now intended is a halfway house that will achieve little in financial savings.”

“In abolishing the Deer Commission’s Board, one of the most valuable assets of DCS will be lost – namely a board that is assembled under legislation to include a balance of practical and experienced individuals to guide the DCS in its dealings with the deer industry. Furthermore, we fear that the really important skills base of DCS will be lost within SNH, and that the present staff, who in general have excellent relationships with deer managers at a local level, will be moved to other duties.”

The rest of this article appears in 14 February issue of Shooting Times.

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