Deer Management Round Table
The Deer Management Round Table (DMRT) is a multi-interest stakeholder group which meets to discuss a wide range of issues associated with deer management across Scotland. DMRT meets four times per year, alternating meetings of the full group and a subgroup, and is chaired by a NatureScot Board member.
Minutes can be found below.
Deer Management Round Table - minutes for 25 September 2023
Mar Lodge, Braemar
Monday 25 September 2023, 10:00-15:00
Welcome and introductions
Colin MacPhail welcomed the group and led introductions.
Walk and talk
Ross MacKay and Shaila Rao led the group on a walk from Mar Lodge to stimulate discussion on deer management and woodland regeneration.
Minutes of last meeting
The minutes from the meeting of the DMRT on 28 March 2023 were agreed.
Update from Strategic Deer Board – Grant Moir
Grant Moir updated on the business of the Strategic Deer Board.
The SDB last met in July at Flanders Moss NNR with a focus on lowland deer. A paper is being prepared for ministers regarding funding for lowland deer and this will be discussed further at the next SDB meeting on 23 October.
Grant reminded attendees that the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy consultation is now open and advised that ministers are engaged in conversations regarding deer management, having recently visited CNPA and ADMG.
Key areas of discussion were as follows:
- Venison incentives.
- Making it easier for landowners to track developments and priority actions in the priority areas identified for deer management.
- Budgets, funding sources and how to present a business case for investment in deer management.
Update on SBS consultation – Liz Walker
Liz Walker updated on the Scottish Government consultation on Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategic Framework, which closes 14 December.
The three components of the consultation are the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy itself, a series of five-year rolling delivery plans and the Natural Environment Bill. The NEB will be introduced in 2024.
The delivery plan is set around six key objectives comprising around 100 actions. This includes a section on deer with the aim to reduce densities to 10 deer per km2.
For any questions, contact Liz.
Update on legislation – Brodie Wilson
Brodie Wilson updated on the legislative changes proposed by the DWG recommendations.
Proposed changes to night vision technology and non-lead ammunition were approved and are expected to come into force in early November. Changes to close seasons will go to the full Parliament for a vote soon. If passed, they will come into force 21 October. If not, further legislative steps will be taken.
Post meeting note: changes to both Scottish Statutory Instruments were agreed by Parliament on 27 September:
- The Close Season Order which will remove the close season for all species of male deer in Scotland and will come into effect on 21 October.
- The Firearms Order which will mean a reduction in the minimum bullet weight required to shoot deer to 80 grains (5.3 grams). The change to the Firearms Order will also allow the use of any ‘sight of any type including light-intensifying, heat-sensitive or other special sighting device for night shooting’. Note that these sights can also be used in daytime. Commencement date to be confirmed but expected to be early November
Brodie Wilson (SG) update on new deer legislation. A full public consultation on new primary legislation for deer is expected to launch at the end of 2023 or start of 2024. New deer legislation will form part of the new Natural Environment Bill but will be separate to the SBS consultation. Stakeholder engagement workshops are expected alongside the public consultation, including with DMRT and with engagement potentially developed with ADMG.
Population model and deer data pilot field app – Willie Lamont / Paul Roberts
Willie Lamont updated on progress with the deer data pilot field app, which aims to provide more comprehensive and joined up deer cull return data. This project fulfils the DWG recommendation to move data online. Testing will take place on NatureScot NNRs over the winter and if successful will be made more widely available.
An already identified add-on to the app is a population model which is more responsive and flexible than those currently available. Work has recently commenced with St. Andrews University to develop the model which aims to improve the robustness of deer data nationwide.
Paul Roberts updated on the redevelopment of Deerline to modernise the system for users and staff. There is a hard deadline of 31 March 2024 for completion and the first element (Fit and Competent) will be live in the coming weeks, with other modules to follow.
Role of DMRT and Common Ground – Paul Roberts
Alan McDonnell and Tom Turnbill updated on the Common Ground Forum and noted that this is due to be launched and has evolved from the successful Finding the Common Ground initiative. The CGF aims to continue improving communication and relationships in the deer sector and to broaden engagement. More information here: https://thecommongroundforum.scot/
Paul Roberts updated on the links between DMRT and the Common Ground Forum.
The key difference between DMRT and the CGF is that DMRT has a wider range of stakeholders and a Scotland-wide remit, whereas CGF is focussed on the uplands.
RTCs Central Belt – discussion – Ben Pacholek
Ben Pacholek requested feedback on Police Scotland management of and mitigation measures for deer vehicle collisions in the central belt.
NatureScot has a long-standing DVCs project incorporating data from multiple sources that is considering the prioritisation of sites based on risk of DVCs. NatureScot will engage with local landowners and managers in DVC hotspots to explore tools available to reduce the risk and incidence of DVCs in the top priority areas to support more localised mitigation measures. Changes to Police Scotland reporting to enable reports to specify whether deer are the cause of RTCs would support this work.
Any other business
NatureScot updated on the resources in place for deer management and plans for engagement with stakeholders.
Doug McAdam advised that new best practice guides on thermal imaging, non-lead ammunition and drones will be available soon.
There was further discussion on the impact of changes to ammunition and to male and female close seasons. SG advised that the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission will be reviewing female close seasons again to inform future discussions.
Date of next meeting and close
It was proposed that DMRT dates will follow Strategic Deer Board meetings moving forward, with the DMRT subgroup next meeting in late January or early February 2024 and the full DMRT in late March or early April 2024.
It was suggested that venison be discussed at the next meeting following the planned summit on this in November.
- Paul Roberts (NS) to send an update to DMRT following the next SDB meeting in October.
- Donald Fraser (NS) to update landowners on action plans for priority areas for deer management at the eNGO Best Practice day at Creag Meagaidh in September.
- Liz Walker (SG) to circulate a written outline of her update regarding consultation details and dates.
- Brodie Wilson (SG) to request an update from DEFRA on non-lead ammunition and the phasing out of lead ammunition.
- NatureScot to circulate dates for future DMRT and subgroup meetings.
Tim Baynes (Scottish Land and Estates Ltd.), Mike Cottam (CNPA), Mike Daniels (JMT), Martyn Davies (GWCT), Niall Evans (LANTRA), Nadia Flaherty (Scottish Land and Estates Ltd.), Ross MacLeod (GWCT), Alan Marshall (BDS), Doug McAdam (Wild Deer Best Practice Guides), Alan McDonnell (Trees for Life), Grant Moir (CNPA), Duncan Orr-Ewing (RSPB / LINK), Ben Pacholek (Police Scotland), Linzi Seivwright (ADMG), Jake Swindells (Scottish Countryside Alliance), Juli Titherington (Scottish Forestry), Tom Turnbull (ADMG), Liz Walker (SG – Biodiversity Unit), Anton Watson (FLS), Brodie Wilson (SG – Wildlife Mgmt Team), Colin MacPhail (NatureScot Board member – Chair), Louise Farmer (NatureScot), Donald Fraser (NatureScot), Erin Garner (NatureScot), James Hammond (NatureScot), Willie Lamont (NatureScot), Paul Roberts (NatureScot)
Olivia Andronic (FSS), April Armstrong (Confor), Liz Barron-Majerik (LANTRA), Davie Black (MCofS), Victoria Brooks (SCSTG), John Bruce (BDS), Peter Clark (BASC), Finlay Clark (ADMG), Richard Cooke (SVP), Angus Corby (Transport Scotland), Holly Deary (NatureScot), Hugh Dignon (SG – Wildlife Mgmt Team), Harriet Donald (LL & TNPA), Ian Fergusson (FLS), Peter Fraser (SGA), John Fletcher (Veterinary Deer Society), Mike Flynn (SSPCA), Elena Gafenco (FSS), Jonnie Hall (NFUS), Alex Hogg (SGA), David Lynn (Police Scotland), Alastair MacGugan (NatureScot), Colin McClean (CNPA), William McGhee (Forest Policy Group), Al Monkman (BDS), Attila Morvay (FSS), David Muir (Scottish Crofting Federation), Robin Pakeman (James Hutton Institute), Dick Playfair (SVP), Heather Reilly (NatureScot), Gavin Ross (National Wildlife Crime Unit), Dominic Sargent (NatureScot), James Scott (BDS), Bruce Sewell (FLA), Robert Sharp (Low Deer Groups), Alex Stoddart (Scottish Association for Country Sports), Helen Todd (Ramblers Association), Andrew Voas (SG – Veterinary Advisor), Dan Watson (NTS), Allan Watt (CEH), Angela Williams (Community Land Scotland / Knoydart Foundation), Bruce Wilson (Scottish Wildlife Trust).
Deer Management Round Table - minutes for 28 March 2023
NatureScot Battleby Office
Tuesday 28 March, 10:00-14:00
Alex Stoddart* (Scottish Association for Country Sports), Anton Watson, (FLS), Duncan Orr-Ewing (RSPB / LINK), Hugh Dignon (SG - Wildlife Mgmt Team), John Fletcher (Veterinary Deer Society), Mike Cottam (CNPA), Peter Fraser (SGA), Colin Shedden (BASC), David Muir (Scottish Crofting Federation), Dick Playfair (SVP), Doug McAdam* (Wild Deer Best Practice Guides), Elena Gafenco (FSS), Grant Moir (CNPA - Strategic Deer Board), Jake Swindells (Scottish Countryside Alliance), James Scott (BDS), Linzi Seivwright (ADMG), Olivia Andronic (FSS), Robert Sharp (Low Deer Groups), Tim Baynes (Scottish Land and Estates Ltd), Tom Turnbull (ADMG), Brodie Wilson (SG - Wildlife Mgmt Team), Harriet Donald* (LL & TNPA), Juli Titherington* (SF), Liz Barron-Majerik* (LANTRA), Mike Daniels* (JMT), Ross MacLeod* (GWCT), Colin McPhail (NatureScot Board Member – Chairing), Donald Fraser (NatureScot), Paul Roberts (NatureScot), Jamie Hammond (NatureScot), Heather Reilly (NatureScot), Paul Sizeland (NatureScot - Biodiversity team)'.
* Joined via Teams
Allan McDonnell (Trees for Life), Angus Corby (Transport Scotland), April Armstrong (Confor), Attila Morvay (FSS), Ben Pacholek (Police Scotland), Bruce Sewell (FLS), Colin McClean (CNPA), David Lynn (Police Scotland), Davie Black (MCofS), Dominic Sargent (NatureScot), Gavin Ross (National Wildlife Crime Unit), Holly Deary (NatureScot), Ian Fergusson (FLS), Mike Flynn (SSPCA), Niall Evans (LANTRA), Robin Pakeman (James Hutton Institute), William McGhee (Forest Policy Group), Willie Lamont (NatureScot), Andrew Voas (SG - Veterinary Adviser)
Welcome & Introductions
Colin MacPhail welcomed the group and led introductions.
Minutes of last meeting
The minutes from the meeting of the DMRT sub-group on 20 December were agreed.
Deer Working Group Recommendations & Deer Work Programme - Paul Roberts
NatureScot updated on the spreadsheet tracking progress and outlining key milestones for each of the 99 Deer Working Group recommendations and the Deer Work Programme which outlines the twenty one projects that are delivering the recommendations and other associated projects. These will be updated quarterly and circulated to DMRT.
Key points raised in discussion:
- The recommendations on farmed deer have raised concerns with the industry. These will be re-sent to Scottish Government and NatureScot.
- Clarity is needed on deer population numbers, impacts and cull targets to better understand action required at the landscape scale to deliver the SBS outcomes.
- Better understanding of deer populations, trends and impacts in the low ground is needed.
Update on new Primary Deer Legislation & Secondary Legislation - Hugh Dignon
Scottish Government updated on the legislative changes proposed by the DWG recommendations:
The recommendations on use of night vision technology, changes to male and female seasons and the use of non-lead ammunition are subject to confirmation by the Minister. The direction of travel set by the DWG recommendations is clear
The indicative timescale is, subject to a Ministerial decision in the springtime, to put the changes before Scottish Parliament before the summer with implementation in time for the changes to have an effect on the ground (eg with changes to seasons). SG is aware that some of the proposed changes are contentious and whilst there will not be a full public consultation there SG will seek the views of key stakeholders as represented on DMRT.
There are forty recommendations relating to changes to primary legislation. New legislation will be taken forward to address these and to reflect the broader agenda of climate change and biodiversity. This will be set out to the Minister for a decision later this year. There will be a full public consultation over the summer with legislation expected in early to mid 2024; subject to parliamentary timescales.
Incentives workstream update - Grant Moir
Grant Moir updated on the Strategic Deer Board Incentives workstream. Key points:
- Strategic Deer Board met at Auchlyne to focus discussion on sheep and deer and the integration of different support mechanisms.
- Aim is an in-principle decision from Minister to include deer management within the proposed agricultural support framework. Next stage will be to develop this into practical details and discuss funding.
- Opportunity to time this with the proposed Agricultural Bill and align with future primary legislation for deer and the revised UK Forest Standard.
- Timing: subject to Ministerial decision and legislative timescale but opportunities exist to test and gain experience through trails eg POBAS.
- Application processes can be prohibitive, aim is to design an outcome-based, streamlined process.
Operational delivery workstream - Jamie Hammond
NatureScot updated on five regional priority areas agreed by the Operational delivery workstream:
- Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Parks (component parts thereof); Scotland’s rainforest areas in Glen Creran and Morven (and Cowal - inc within LLTNP) and (part of) the Clyde Climate Forest.
- Naturescot is finalising a paper on the rationale behind each priority area and is discussing with teams across FLS, National Parks etc
- Next step is to agree a work programme at a local scale with partners, to focus on the key issues and to be realistic with regard to resources and timescales.
- Priority areas are potential test beds for testing more effective regulation and potentially incentives for deer management etc.
- NatureScot will still be responsible for routine deer management casework, working with DMGs and taking regulatory action were necessary.
Regulatory Workstream - Donald Fraser
The regulatory workstream is progressing better aligned future regulation across public sector agencies through applying current regulatory measures in a more effective and coordinated way. Strategic Deer Board is aiming to align regulatory and incentive approaches in the future and to test new approaches in the priority areas.
NatureScot is working with Cairgorms National Park and others to progress section 7 agreement.
Loch choire s10
NatureScot intervention has now ended and are moving to longer term use of powers.
Capacity & skills update - Paul Roberts
NatureScot introduced a report commissioned by NatureScot to scope current capacity in the deer sector and outline how jobs might evolve in the future as we deliver the SBS outcomes and the associated increased deer culls. The aim of the study is to better understand how jobs might change over the next 10-20 years so that we can better plan for and influence these changes and reduce the uncertainty over jobs and livelihoods.
Stakeholders were thanked for their responses to requests for information. Further work is planned by NatureScot who will involve stakeholders.
SBS Update - Paul Sizeland
NatureScot presented an overview of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy work programme.
See presentation circulated with the minutes.
Lyme disease research - David Muir
David Muir, Scottish crofting rep and member of Uist DMG gave a presentation on recent research on lyme disease on Uist.
See presentation circulated with the minutes.
Finding the Common Ground - AMDG & Environment Link
Tom Turnbull and Duncan Orr-Ewing gave updated on the Finding the Common Ground initiative. This is being run by Centre for Good Relations and aims to build better relationships across the deer sector in upland Scotland. The initiative has run a series of workshop involving a range of stakeholders. Experience has been positive; building trust and more a constructive dialogue, noting that existing relationships were already positive and respectful. The initiative will end this year a final two-day workshop in June. The aim is to continue dialogue and build on relationships.
Date of Next Meeting
Next meeting of the sub-group will be in June. Next meeting of the full membership of DMRT will be October/ November and will include a site visit. Dates to follow.
- NatureScot to circulate a short update from the Strategic Deer Board meeting on 8 March 2023.
- NatureScot to circulate updated versions of the Deer Working Group recommendations spreadsheet and the Deer Work Programme.
- Food Standard Scotland offered to give a presentation on venison at the full DMRT meeting in the Autumn.
- NatureScot to circulate a doodle poll for dates of next meetings