New online deer management service launched

13 March 2024

NatureScot has launched a new online service as part of work to modernise deer and wildlife management systems in Scotland.

Deer managers will now be able to apply for or renew licences for controlling deer online, simplifying and streamlining the previous manual processes.

It follows the successful introduction of the first part of the service last October, which allows deer controllers to apply for or renew their fit and competent status online.

The digital service is quicker and easier both for applicants and staff to use, allowing NatureScot to process applications more efficiently.

The launch of the new system was announced today (Wednesday, March 13th) at the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG) in Inverness.

Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s Head of Wildlife Management, said: “With a 97% satisfaction rate reported for the first part of this new online service, we hope that deer managers will find the process much simpler and easier in future.

“Sustainably managing Scotland’s deer, including a significant reduction in numbers, is vital if we are to protect and restore our woodlands and peatlands and effectively tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

“NatureScot is leading work to implement the recommendations of the independent Deer Working Group accepted by the Scottish Government, which included a move to more online services. This project is a key step towards modernising our approach to wildlife management, including the redevelopment and digitisation of species licensing systems.”

The online service has been developed in partnership with Calba and supports the Scottish Government’s ambitions for the digital transformation of public services.


The new online service is available for applications and renewals of licences for controlling deer (known as authorisations).

An online service for returns is currently in development and due to be launched soon. Authorisation holders and property owners are advised to wait until the new service is available before submitting 2023-2024 returns to NatureScot.

While the system for applying for authorisations has been simplified and streamlined through the new online service, the assessment process will remain the same. Applications for authorisations are carefully considered on a case-by-case basis and authorisations are only issued when we are satisfied that damage from deer is occurring or is likely to occur, that reasonable efforts were taken in season to address the problem and that there are no other means that could reasonably be taken to resolve the issue.