Deer in and around towns and cities

Deer are not confined to the countryside and also live in more built-up areas. This creates new challenges around people and deer interactions.

Deer not only live in the woods, fields and hills of the countryside but they are commonly found in more built-up environments too.

Roe deer in particular can now be seen in housing estates and shopping centre car parks and even on city roads. However, the patterns of land ownership and use in urban, sub-urban and peri-urban environments combined with the generally solitary and secretive nature of roe deer makes managing them challenging.

Understanding and helping manage the interactions between wild deer and people in and around towns and cities is an important area of work for us.

Our approach

We are working in collaboration with land owners and land managers, including local authorities, to identify and tackle the challenges that they face with regard to deer in and around our towns and cities. Our involvement includes:

  • talking with land managers to promote awareness of and education around deer
  • helping develop site-specific solutions where conflicts arise, such as damage to private property
  • supporting the Lowland Deer Network Scotland, which offers collaborative approaches to deer management in areas of the central belt and north-east and southern Scotland
  • promoting Best Practice guidance such as the guides on Deer in Towns: Challenges and Opportunities and Deer in Towns: Responding to Situations
  • using thermal imaging for gauging the size and distribution of deer populations in our more built-up areas.

Previous research

Back in 2009, Forest Research published The management of roe deer in peri-urban Scotland. This research examined the range of often complex issues that arise when deer and people live side by side in and around towns and cities. The focus was on how people interacted with deer, with the research team seeing if it was possible to promote new ways to think about, appreciate and, where necessary, manage deer.

Local authorities and deer management

The Code of Practice on Deer Management (often referred to as the Deer Code) describes what everybody who owns or manages land on which wild deer occur must, should and could do to support sustainable deer management. This includes public bodies, such as local authorities, which are required to take account of the Deer Code when carrying out their functions.

In recent years, we have been encouraging local authorities to adopt a deer management planning process at the strategic and site level. We have supported the development of Deer Management Statements, which set the scene and identify an approach for developing policy. They can also be used to inform Deer Management Plans. Creating a Deer Management Statement is an effective starting point and demonstrates that the local authority is giving serious consideration to the Deer Code.

NatureScot is always available to discuss deer management with all local authorities.

Local Authorities - Deer Management Statement

Background

The legislation covering deer and their management in Scotland is the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996.  Delivery of the aims of this legislation is expected to be delivered through Scotland’s Wild Deer: A National Approach (WDNA).  This is a 20 year vision for wild deer management.  Launched in November 2008, it was developed and is being delivered by private and public bodies working together.

The Code of Practice on Deer Management (The Deer Code) was approved by the Scottish Parliament in 2012 and describes what everybody who owns or manages land on which wild deer occur must, should and could do to support sustainable deer management.

Public Body Requirement

Public bodies are required to take account of the Deer Code when carrying out related functions. Most specifically this applies to local authorities as landowners or managing agents. Considering a deer management planning process at the strategic and practical site level is a key mechanism to enable local authorities to take account of the Deer Code.

Following recommendations arising from the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee Enquiry in 2013 and the subsequent review of deer management carried out by NatureScot (previously SNH) in 2016, support to local authorities has been identified as a key area to take forward. An element of this is to encourage local authorities to adopt a planning process and to consider the development of effective and environmentally responsible management plans. The precursor to this can be the development of a ‘Deer Management Statement’ which can set the scene and identify the best approach for developing policy and ultimately site specific deer management plans.

There are currently 15 local authorities that have produced Deer Management Statements (to varying degrees), and some have already went one stage further and produced a Deer Management Plan. This approach of creating a Deer Management Statement is an effective starting point, and demonstrates to NatureScot that the local authority has given serious consideration to the Deer Code.

In some instances, NatureScot has commissioned a Deer Management Statement on behalf of the local authority. In these instances, NatureScot has overseen the project and worked closely with both the contractor and local authority.

NatureScot are always available to discuss deer management with all local authorities.

Please browse through the links below and read through the various Deer Management Statements.

Hamilton Low Parks Woodland Herbivore Impact Assessment & Roe Deer Management - 2018

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