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Our role in deer management

We have a statutory responsibility to further the conservation, control and sustainable management of all wild deer species in Scotland.

Scottish Natural Heritage must ensure that:

  • deer management on designated sites prevents deer from having an adverse impact on such sites
  • deer are managed effectively, using deer management groups to foster a collaborative approach that takes into account varied interests
  • action is taken, usually by land managers, to protect public safety and deer welfare – e.g. by reducing the risk of deer vehicle collisions
  • we keep under review all matters relating to wild deer

We also collect and maintain national data relating to deer management, and support the development of Wild Deer Best Practice guidance.

You can also find out how we promote Scotland’s deer for the benefit of our economy.

Deer management data

Deer census results

View Scottish Natural Heritage Deer Census Results 2006–2018

Counts are prioritised to those areas where there are issues over the delivery of public objectives such as nature conservation or protecting public safety.

Yearly spend depends on size of area covered and other variables such as fuel costs and weather conditions.

Deer cull records

We collect data on how many deer are culled across Scotland.

View a table of the overall reported national cull from 1996 to 2017

Variation in reported numbers may be partly due to:

  • the number of requests for returns received and accuracy of reporting
  • changes in land use priorities – e.g. a shift towards grouse moor management
  • a reduction in deer numbers for nature conservation reasons
  • harsh winters affecting the ability to control deer

You should treat these figures with caution, as many landowners – e.g. those culling under agricultural exemptions – haven’t always been asked for cull numbers.

Control of deer under licence

View the numbers of deer culled out of season from 2007–2017

The figures are taken from authorisation returns provided by landowners who control deer under licence and so may not reflect the full picture nationally. Some landowners who control deer out of season over certain types of land may do so under a general licence.

Deer authorisations issued in 2018/19.

Wild Deer Best Practice guidance

Visit our Best Practice Guides website for guidance covering all aspects of wild deer management in Scotland.

Our guides aim to provide clarity on the law as well as:

  • safeguard the public
  • ensure food safety
  • take full account of deer welfare

Public confidence in these three issues is vital if how we manage wild deer in Scotland is to continue to be respected at home and abroad.