A new panel of experts is being established by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to examine the complex issues related to deer management in the Scottish lowlands. The work of the panel will contribute to the Scottish Government’s ongoing review of deer management across Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham said: “I asked for this group to be set up following the reports on deer management by SNH and the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, both of which highlighted the importance of better understanding the impacts of deer in the lowlands. This expert group will help us achieve that and identify how we can better manage our wild deer in the lowlands, and whether improvements can be made to minimise the cost of deer road vehicle collisions, as well as reducing the environmental impact.
“I expect this group focusing on the lowlands will liaise closely with the independent working group on deer chaired by Simon Pepper.”
Mike Cantlay, SNH Chairman, added, “With more trees planted in the lowlands of Scotland every year, the number of deer has also been increasing steadily. Many of us enjoy seeing deer, but we also need to be aware that, in some areas, too many deer can affect forests, cause damage to crops and natural areas, and increase road accidents. The new panel will review these issues and consider what needs to be put in place to ensure deer numbers are kept at the right balance for conservation, agriculture and road safety.”
There is currently a lack of data on deer numbers in the Scottish lowlands, so the group will first look at the nature of deer impacts the lowlands, and then examine how best to involve and work collaboratively with private landowners, agricultural interests, local authorities and other public agencies. The panel will also examine whether new structures are needed to help manage deer in the lowlands.
Peter Watson, Director of the Deer Initiative since 2004, has been named as chair of the panel. The other members of the panel include Professor Steve Albon of the James Hutton Institute; Eirwen Hopwood of West Lothian Council; Professor Jochen Langbein, an independent wildlife consultant; David Quarrell of South Lanarkshire Deer Group; Karen Ramoo of Scottish Land & Estates; and Jane Rosegrant of Borders Forest Trust.
The panel will submit a report to SNH by the end of September 2018 on its findings, at which time the panel will be disbanded. SNH will review the report and decide on the next steps.