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

The final report of the Deer Working Group.

Part Five - Non-statutory Arrangements


1 The aim of Scotland’s system for the management of wild deer is that the deer should be managed to the best effect in the public interest. The system to achieve this has three main components. The first of these is property law that defines the legal status of wild deer and the nature of deer hunting rights, as discussed in Section 1.

2 The second component is the regulatory laws governing how wild deer can be managed. These include the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 and associated secondary legislation discussed in the previous Parts of the Report, as well as related legislation covering topics such as food safety and firearms.

3 The statutory framework of the first two components of the system of deer management is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament representing the overall public interest. The third component is then the non-statutory public sector arrangements to influence the management of wild deer in the public interest. This Part of the Report considers these non-statutory arrangements.

4 The nature of the non-statutory arrangements is determined by the Scottish Government (SG) and its agencies, representing the public interest below the level of the Scottish Parliament. The key government agency is Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as the public authority responsible for implementing the deer legislation.

5 The SG sets the public policy context within which SNH operates and the level of resources available to SNH to carry out its functions under the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 and other legislation. The public policy context, including the SG’s policy for deer management and its relationship with SNH, is considered in Section 25 below. Section 26 considers the non-statutory approach adopted by SNH.

6 SNH’s non-statutory approach will influence the extent to which SNH uses both its regulatory powers under the 1996 Act and its enabling powers in the Act. SNH’s enabling powers are mainly set out in s.3 ‘Power of SNH to facilitate exercise of functions’ and are wide ranging. They include, for example, the power to issue guidance or advice, to conduct research and investigations and to carry out experiments or trials. Other enabling powers in the Act include s.4 ‘Appointment of panels’ to provide advice to SNH and s.12 ‘Power of Commission [SNH] to provide services and equipment and to make certain payments’.

7 A central element in the effectiveness of public sector non-statutory measures is appropriate engagement with the land owners and occupiers, deer hunters and others directly associated with carrying out deer management. The many people and organisations involved in deer management from both the private and public sectors are generally referred to as the deer sector.



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