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Scotland’s icy weather puts weak deer at risk

The Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS) has warned that thousands of deer could starve to death during one of Scotland’s coldest ever winters. This news comes after the Government agency recently sent out a letter to all deer managers in Scotland encouraging them to continue with their planned deer management targets.

“This winter has been quite exceptional and access to forage has been a major problem,” DCS’s director of deer management Robbie Kernahan told Shooting Times. He added: “We are expecting substantial losses. Shooting virtually stopped in January. There are concerns that estates will not be able to meet cull targets and that the stalking economy will be badly affected as well.”

Mr Kernahan said the DCS is expecting significant winter mortality this year, but it is too difficult to judge numbers yet. “The DCS shares the concerns of deer managers about the impact this weather will have on the health of Scotland’s deer species, but we hope that the prospect of higher mortality will not prevent estates delivering on their cull targets.”

Donald Fraser, the DCS’s deer officer for the North East, said that unless there is a thaw soon there will be a significant number of mortalities. “There could be thousands. The estates are quite worried. The full effects will not be felt until the spring. A lot of the deaths will come later, as many animals will get through this period but then not have the energy and condition to survive past that.”

The rest of this article appears in 17th February issue of Shooting Times.

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