The management of wild deer in Scotland: Deer Working Group report

The final report of the Deer Working Group.

Part Three - Damage To Public Interests


1 Part Two of this Report considered the basic standards of public safety and deer welfare that should apply through Scotland’s deer legislation, to safeguard these public interests as part of the management of wild deer in all circumstances. Those considerations included, for example, the provisions governing how and when wild deer can be killed lawfully.

2 The role of the deer legislation is also to safeguard interests that are considered to be in the public interest, from physical damage by wild deer in particular circumstances. The Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 therefore, like the Deer (Scotland) Act 1959 before it, includes a number of regulatory powers that can be used by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) where appropriate to prevent damage or further damage by deer to the interests covered by the legislation.[1] These regulatory powers and the history of their use are considered in Part Four of the Report.

3 This Part of the Report considers the meaning of ‘damage’ in the context of the interests covered by the regulatory powers in the 1996 Act, before commenting on the nature and extent of damage by deer to each of the main interests covered by the powers. The final Section in this Part of the Report then considers the overall economic cost/benefit equation for management of wild deer in Scotland at present.

4 The main role of Scotland’s deer legislation has always been to prevent damage or further damage to public interests, whether through provisions for basic standards of public safety and deer welfare in all circumstances or through regulatory powers to protect those and other public interests in particular circumstances. Damage might therefore be seen as a central concept in legislation.


1 These powers include the scope to authorise out of season and night shooting under s.5(6) and s.18(2), the short term emergency control powers under ss.10 and 11, and the use of s.6A Deer Management Plans and s.7 Control Agreements leading to a s.8 Control Scheme where necessary.



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