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Protected species: deer

All four deer species found in Scotland – red, roe, fallow and sika – are protected under the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996.

Deer don’t belong to anyone while they’re alive. But the right to take or kill deer is limited to the owner of the land on which they’re found. A number of other people such as tenants may take or kill deer for certain purposes.

The Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 sets out:

  • when, where, how and by whom deer can be taken or killed
  • the dates of the open and closed seasons – during which the killing of deer is either permitted or prohibited

You can see our summary of offences in relation to deer below. For the definitive list of offences, you should consult the actual legislation.

Discover more about deer found in Scotland.

Offences: deer

Offences against deer include:

  • killing deer by any means other than shooting
  • shooting deer during close seasons
  • using any type of gun and/or ammunition to shoot deer other than those specified for this purpose

Deer close seasons in Scotland

Closed seasons vary by deer species and sex of the deer targeted.

Red stags: 21 October to 30 June
Red hinds: 16 February to 20 October

Sika stags: 21 October to 30 June
Sika hinds: 16 February to 20 October

Fallow bucks: 1 May to 31 July
Fallow does: 16 February to 20 October

Roe bucks: 21 October to 31 March
Roe does: 1 April to 20 October

Deer authorisations

As with other types of licensing, deer authorisations allow named individuals to cull deer in circumstances that could otherwise constitute an offence. If you’re planning any deer management activities, you must make sure you stay within the law.

Find out about deer and licensing.

Learn more about licensing.

Find out more

Protected species known to occur naturally in Scotland and their protection