Strengthening deer management

Actions to improve practices and protect the environment.

Improvements will be made to the way wild deer are managed in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed.

The Scottish Government will take steps to protect habitats and help biodiversity, including:  

  • Urging the deer sector and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to do more to improve deer management planning, with progress to be reviewed in 2019 to consider if a fundamental change is needed
  • Ensuring SNH take a tougher approach to dealing with non-cooperative landowners, using the full range of enforcement powers at its disposal
  • Setting up an independent group to look at deer management issues, including a separate panel to look at lowland deer management
  • Testing current intervention powers before making further legislative changes

Ms Cunningham said:

“While some progress has been made in the management of our wild deer following recent changes to legislation and through the work of the Association of Deer Management Groups, we know further improvements are needed to minimise the costs of deer road vehicle collisions and replacing fencing, as well as reducing the environmental impact.

“By setting up an independent group on deer management, encouraging SNH to use their full range of powers and improving deer management plans, we hope to address the main challenges and ensure we protect our environment and the interests of the public, as well as support the rural economy.”


The commitments follow the publication of recent reports by SNH and the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.

Further details of the membership and remit of the deer management group will be announced in due course.

The Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 was amended last year with the following provisions:

  • SNH power to require the production of a deer management plan, including the option to approve (with or without modification) or reject it. Requires SNH to review compliance with the Code of Practice on Deer Management every three years
  • Power to require returns from landowners on the number of deer planned to be culled
  • Provide for deer panels for the purpose of engaging with the local community
  • Increase the maximum penalty for failing to implement a control scheme to £40,000


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