Deer in urban areas

As low ground deer populations spread – particularly roe deer in and around urban areas – we explore the impact for deer and people.

Understanding the interactions between deer and people in and around towns, and the context in which lowland deer management operates, continues to be a core area of work for us.

Our approach

Scottish Natural Heritage:

  • works with a range of land managers, including local authorities, to promote awareness of and education around potential deer issues in and around urban areas
  • develops site-specific solutions to resolve issues such as deer vehicle collisions, damage to woodlands, private property and greenspace and conservation interests, wildlife crime and deer welfare
  • has created Best Practice Guides on Deer in Towns: Challenges and Opportunities and Deer in Towns: Responding to Situations
  • works with lowland deer groups to support deer management being carried out effectively in line with Best Practice Guides and provides advice – particularly where public access and media involvement are challenges
  • continues to use thermal imaging as a basis to judge local populations and distribution as well as being a useful tool for engaging with land managers, such as Local Authority staff

Previous research

Forest Research published a piece of research, The management of roe deer in peri-urban Scotland, in 2009. This examined the range of often complex issues that arise when deer and people try to live side by side in and around towns.

Growing numbers of deer are moving into peri-urban areas – defined as the mosaic of mixed land uses found around our towns, from housing and transport to agriculture and forestry.

Questionnaires and focus groups were used to explore the positive and negative impacts of deer on local communities. The focus was on how people interact with deer, though deer management options were also discussed.

The research team wanted to see if it was possible to promote new ways to think about, appreciate and, where necessary, manage deer. A way to encourage greater involvement in, understanding of and future planning for deer management was proposed and is being tested in West Lothian.