Managing deer

Sustainable deer management isn’t just good news for our nature and landscapes. It also benefits the people of Scotland.


Wild deer are an important asset for Scotland. They contribute to the rural economy, are integral to our biodiversity and attract – from near and far – visitors hoping for an unforgettable wildlife encounter.

As well as promoting venison as a healthy food, we help to make deer watching more accessible, highlight rut events and do educational work around deer.

Deer can affect plants, trees and other wildlife, and so deer management helps to manage Scotland’s countryside, land and natural assets as a whole. We offer general guidance on deer management for all owners and managers of land where Scotland’s wild deer roam.

Designated sites affected by deer impacts can join the Delivering Favourable Condition programme and access financial support specifically to address the issue.

To protect public safety, we work with other agencies to minimise deer vehicle collisions and offer drivers advice on how to avoid them. This work also helps to safeguard deer welfare.

Framework for deer management

NatureScot has a statutory responsibility to further the conservation, control and sustainable management of all wild deer species in Scotland. Managing deer sustainably requires a collaborative approach and we work with a range of partners throughout Scotland, including the Association of Deer Management Groups and Lowland Deer Network Scotland to help deliver that responsibility. We also collect and maintain national data on deer management and support the development of Wild Deer Best Practice Guidance.

Whilst not statutory, the Code of Practice on Deer Management applies to all who manage wild deer, or who own or manage land where wild deer roam and sets out how to deliver sustainable deer management.

The 2017 independent Deer Working Group (DWG) report to the Scottish Government made 99 recommendations relating to the management of wild deer in Scotland. Most of the recommendations were accepted and we are working with the Scottish Government to implement them.

Implementing the DWG recommendations is a key part of delivering the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS) and Net Zero ambitions. To help meet the challenge of halting biodiversity loss by 2030 and reversing it with large-scale restoration by 2045, the Scottish Government has established the Deer Management Strategic Board under the SBS Programme. This will ensure that deer management remains integral to the delivery of the SBS ambition.  

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