New code to keep deer sustainable

Share this article

A NEW deer code aimed at helping farmers and stalkers co-operate to manage the wild herd came into effect earlier this week, writes Sally Gillespie.

Developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the guidelines, which came into force on January 1, are aimed at anyone involved in deer management, including lowland tenant farmers, recreational stalkers, crofters and upland deer managers.

Alastair MacGugan, SNH’s wildlife management manager, said: “Wild deer are an important part of Scotland’s ecology, economy and culture.

“Deer are managed in certain parts of Scotland to protect crops, trees and protected natural areas, as well as to reduce road accidents.

“Deer stalking also provides an important source of income to many fragile rural economies throughout Scotland.

“Balancing these different objectives is sometimes a challenge, so the aim of the code is to provide guidance to land managers and their neighbours on how to co-operatively manage deer.”

The code is part of the part of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (WANE) bill passed by the Scottish Government last year.

It sets out how those who have deer on their land can deliver sustainable deer management. It also puts new responsibilities on land managers and helps to identify what they must, should or could do to manage deer.

But the code also sets out when and how SNH, the government’s adviser on Scottish nature and landscape, will become involved. Previously the authority only took action when deer were causing damage to the environment. But now SNH powers have been widened to include taking action when deer welfare is involved, or when there is damage caused by deer to social and economic activities.

SNH developed the code with input from a range of organisations and people involved in land management.

For more information, see