Conference tackles deer problem

13/08/07, TSPL, SCOTSMAN, WILD LIFE, CAPREOLUS CAPREOLUS, DEER, ROE DEER BENEATH A ROWAN TREE NEAR NEWBURGH FIFE.PICTURE  IAN RUTHERFORD.

13/08/07, TSPL, SCOTSMAN, WILD LIFE, CAPREOLUS CAPREOLUS, DEER, ROE DEER BENEATH A ROWAN TREE NEAR NEWBURGH FIFE.PICTURE IAN RUTHERFORD.

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DEALING with increasing numbers of roe deer under a new wildlife act will be the subject of a free conference near Peebles next month.

The seminar, at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel on November 14, aims to highlight issues surrounding wild deer management in southern Scotland in the context of the new Wildlife & Natural Environment (W&NE) Act passed in March.

And it will also serve as the launch of the Lowland Deer Network, (LDN), a new initiative to help lowland deer managers to develop a more coordinated approach to managing deer on their land.

Chairman of organisers, the umbrella Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG), Richard Cooke, said: “Scotland’s rural sector has to recognise that, in terms of the new W&NE Act, low ground deer bring at least as many challenges as their high ground counterparts.

“This event aims to reach those who farm, have forestry interests, who stalk, or who own or manage land, whether private or public, and advise them about how the act affects them; also that a more coordinated approach may be more effective in managing deer on the low ground and on the urban fringe.”

Scottish Minister for environment and climate change, Stewart Stevenson MSP, will be giving the keynote address.

Other speakers will include SNH chairman Andrew Thin, Forestry Commission Scotland director Dr Bob McIntosh, Derek Kneller and Robert Speirs from the North Lanarkshire Deer Management Group, and the National Farmers Union of Scotland’s head of rural policy, Jonathan Hall.

The act – the first update to legislation since 1996 – did not make big changes to managing wild deer, but laid out guidance and the legal responsibilities of people with deer on their land more clearly.

The code of practice Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) developed following the act outlines how to manage deer sustainably, minimise the negative impacts of deer and safeguard their welfare.

A spokesperson for ADMG said: “Problems include grazing pressure by deer on commercial forestry and crops, road traffic accidents, incursions into private gardens and other urban situations.”

Deer causing problems include roe, sika and fallow, and everyone who has deer on their land, however large or small, the landholding has a responsibility under the act.

The new LDN is a pan-industry, public and private sector and is an ADMG initiative supported by organisations including SNH, Forestry Commission Scotland, the British Deer Society, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and others.

The ADMG spokesperson said: “Focusing on roe deer and other species, and as the W&NE Act affects anyone who has deer on their land, the development of LDN is intended to pre-empt issues that are emerging from increasing low ground deer numbers due to expanding woodland habitat and a readily available food supply.”

The Cardrona event is aimed at farmers and land managers, deer stalkers (professional and recreational), forestry companies and foresters, Local Authorities and other individuals and organisations who have an interest in how Scotland’s low ground deer resource should be sustainably managed.

Places on the day-long conference will be given on a first-come basis and anyone interested should contact dalhousieestates@btinternet.com or ring 01356 624566.