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.

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