Destructive ‘Asbo Bambis’ move closer to the Borders

Muntjac Deer
Muntjac Deer

LATEST figures by the British Deer Society (BDS) show the pest muntjac deer knocking on the Borders doors.

There were unconfirmed sightings of the species from China in Dumfriesshire last year.

But last week a spokesperson for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said: “There have been no confirmed reports of muntjac deer in the Borders.”

BDS members and the general public help compile sightings of deer and the society’s map using the latest data shows the diminutive deer dubbed “Asbo Bambis” as far north as Carlisle.

SNH said it is taking various steps to prevent the spread of muntjac into Scotland.

The spokesperson said: “We are raising awareness among deer managers so that they know what to do if they see a muntjac. There is no closed season on muntjac, which means that they can be shot at any time of year.

“It’s against the law to keep muntjac in captivity without a licence, and the enclosures must be secure.”

SNH’s wildlife operations team investigates credible sightings using thermal imaging equipment and camera traps.

SNH estimates the costs of dealing with muntjac in Scotland, if herds became established, would be up to £2million a year.

SNH’s advisor on non-native species, Stan Whitaker, said: “We strongly advise deer managers to shoot any wild muntjac they come across on their land, provided it is safe and humane to do so. Prevention is better than cure, so our objective is to prevent muntjac from becoming established in Scotland in the first place.

“Muntjac deer are among the most destructive animal pests in Britain. They damage young trees and coppiced woodland and, where they are in high numbers, they can cause damage to cereal crops and orchards. They pose a particular threat to our native oak woodlands and bluebells.”

Mr Whitaker said anyone seeing a muntjac on their land must report it to Scottish Natural Heritage by emailing wildlifeops@snh.gov.uk.

BDS’s David Goffin said: “Muntjac deer have been there [nearly into Scotland] or thereabouts for the last 20 years.

“They have never really made any further impact north. I suppose it is inevitable at some point they might turn up, but SNH have a strategic policy to deal with that.”