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Injured deer left to die in strict new policy from Scotland’s forestry body

The policy states that dogs should be in view of stalkers at all times.

Deer managers are being forced to let injured deer die slowly due to a policy from Scotland’s forestry body in the wake of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill. 

Best practice training says stalkers working in public forests should take a tracking dog to locate deer injured during culling. Wounded deer can run off into cover and die slowly, so the use of a tracking dog to locate the wounded animal is the quickest method to minimise suffering. 

However, government department Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has set a stricter in-house policy than the law demands, stating deer managers should not use a tracking dog if they cannot guarantee it remains within their sight. 

Professional stalkers are reporting they are having to let injured deer go because a dog entering thick cover could see them in contravention of FLS policy. 

Chris Dalton, five-time UK professional deerstalker of the year, told ST: “I feel that FLS has gone completely over the top in the interpretation of new rules. The guidelines must allow an individual to take whatever steps are proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances to prevent an animal suffering. A stalker must therefore be allowed to follow up a wounded deer with a dog or dogs to affect a speedy recovery and despatch.”