LOCAL input in decisions about wild deer is vital, Peeblesshire gamekeeper Alex Hogg told politicians in Holyrood earlier this month.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman was addressing the Rural Affairs Committee which is considering future deer management.
“There is a real fear that if we lose the balancing input of working people when it comes to deer management, jobs will be lost and businesses will suffer,” said Mr Hogg.
He fears a statutory deer management system would cause stalker job cuts with contract stalkers flown in instead.
He said: “There will be nothing like the same level of concern for the people of that community, or the welfare of the deer, which will simply become a number.
“A lot of progress has been made with the voluntary system. We believe the current system best balances biodiversity, deer welfare, local jobs and community socio-economics.”
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) representatives also addressed the committee .
SNH’s head of wildlife operations, Robbie Kernahan told us: “The current legislation can provide the basis for a modern approach to management.
“It allows for a blend of incentive, advice and regulation. We’re committed to making that voluntary system work.
“However, more needs to be done by land owners and deer management groups to demonstrate a willingness to look beyond private management objectives and demonstrate that the existing voluntary approach can deliver sustainable deer management.”