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 road traffic accidents, and offer drivers advice on how to avoid deer vehicle collisions. This work also helps to safeguard deer welfare.

Framework for deer management

Scottish Natural Heritage has a statutory responsibility to further the conservation, control and sustainable management of all wild deer species in Scotland. We also collect and maintain national data on deer management, and support the development of Wild Deer Best Practice guidance.

Scotland’s Wild Deer: A National Approach is Scotland’s vision for wild deer, which land managers and public bodies deliver. A 2014 review of the original 2008 policy document has set new priorities and challenges for 2015–2020. This directs our whole approach to managing deer.

The Code of Practice on Deer Management sets out how to deliver sustainable deer management and applies to all who manage wild deer, or who own or manage land where wild deer roam.

Managing red deer sustainably in the open range calls for a collaborative approach, which is made possible by voluntary deer management groups. SNH works with a range of partners to develop effective planning including the Association of Deer Management Groups and local deer management groups throughout Scotland.