The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Scotland is to extend local deer management plans

The Scottish government announces that its Cairngorms Deer Pilot, which trains local people to manage deer, is to be rolled out further.

Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary Màiri McAllan says the Scottish government “will build on the current Cairngorms Deer Pilot to develop a national scheme which incentivises increased management and investment in the venison supply chain”.

The pilot started in 2023 and offers local residents the opportunity to learn vital skills. When locals are fully trained and qualified, they can have free access to NatureScot’s Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve (NNR) to shoot deer in season for their own consumption.

The project aims to support recommendations from the 2019 independent Deer Working Group report, which recognised the benefits of more local consumption of wild venison.

“That rate of local consumption appears low compared to some other European countries. However, the group considers that the increased level of local consumption in Scotland has many attributes that are in the public interest,” it stated.

Peter Clark, BASC Scotland director, said: “While the measures taken by the Scottish government offers some support to the sector, we need greater incentivisation rather than more regulation, as proposed in a recent consultation. The national support scheme will provide some incentive, but more detail is needed on exactly what the government is proposing.

“We welcome the announcement of investment for the venison supply chain and BASC looks forward to helping the government shape deer policy in the months to come.”

The Scottish government has already indicated the pilot will be rolled out further. Answering questions in Scottish parliament earlier in the year regarding the potential roll-out of the Cairngorms pilot, Ms McAllan said: “I am pleased with the result of the pilot scheme on community-led deer management, I am excited about the work that is under way in the Cairngorms National Park and I look forward to expanding the programme, so that we can have more community benefits from our deer management plans.”

The new policy package reaffirms this commitment and expands on it through committing specifically to a new “national scheme”. Ms McAllan’s announcement is one of 19 planned actions across policy areas, which include transport and land use as well as climate change plans.