The impact of high deer numbers on Scotland's natural heritage has been in the news of late, with evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament earlier this month. According to both public bodies and environmental charities, bambi and chums are far too numerous; and something needs to be done.
Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB Scotland gave a pithy summary of the thinking:
‘Not only are high deer numbers and the current failures of deer management impacting our natural heritage, they’re also impacting government policies on woodland expansion, biodiversity and climate change. This is a serious issue that needs to be tackled and we’re pleased to see broad agreement on this issue among key public bodies.’
Thanks to their emphasis on high head counts of red deer at the expense of more or less anything else, sporting estates are contributing to a denuded environment across Scotland's uplands. Large (and steadily growing) deer populations are munching the Scottish mountains to the roots, stopping trees from growing and preventing the regeneration of wildlife-rich natural woodlands.
According to conservation charity the John Muir Trust (JMT), among others, we need to think differently to reverse this dramatic decline in biodiversity - and this means better land management that gets a proper handle on deer numbers nationwide. Fundamentally, more culling.
This attractive short film from the JMT explains some of the issues: