Scottish Natural Heritage has analysed National Forest Estate (NFE) monitoring data to summarise spatial and temporal trends in woodland deer densities across the NFE. This review aimed to address Scotland’s lack of contemporary estimates of wild deer abundance at a national scale.
Deer population models were built for 32 forests. Covering 38% of the land area under management, these forests represented a cross section of conditions across Scotland within the NFE.
Trends in deer abundance from June 2001 to June 2016 in each forest were predicted from the models, which used:
- historic deer cull records
- estimates of historic deer recruitment rates
- estimates of abundance taken from routine monitoring of the NFE using deer dung counts
Deer abundance estimates for the 32 forests for June 2016 were extrapolated to estimate the total number of deer within the NFE as a whole. An estimate of the number of deer in private woodlands was also produced, based on national cull records provided by SNH. Thus the report is able to offer a broad contemporary estimate of overall woodland deer abundance for Scotland.
The review’s main findings were included in Deer Management in Scotland, a review of deer management presented to Scottish Ministers in 2016.
See also: Deer Management in Scotland