Peebles conference addresses new Act’s implications for lowland deer management.

A packed conference at Cardrona, Peebles yesterday (14 November) addressed the issue of deer management in low ground areas, and the new duties that those with deer on their land now have under the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act to manage them sustainably.

Those attending represented both the public and private sector and included landowners, farmers and foresters as well as recreational stalkers and countryside rangers.

They heard from a variety of speakers including Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change; Andrew Thin, Chairman, Scottish Natural Heritage; Robbie Kernahan, Wildlife Operations Unit Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage, Iain Fergusson, Deer Management Officer (South), Forest Enterprise Scotland, and Jonnie Hall, Head of Policy, NFUS.

In addition, a case study on low ground deer management was presented by Robert Speirs and Derek Kneller of the North Lanarkshire Deer Management Group.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Environment, said:

"I welcome this initiative which looks at how deer management structures can be adapted for the lowlands.  As a government, we have provided the legislative framework for the delivery of deer management with public interest in mind, and SNH has developed the code of practice intended to support deer mangers with advice on guidance.  However, the right structures must be in place to allow deer managers to work in a collaborative way with neighbours and relevant public authorities."

Richard Cooke, Chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups, and who chaired the event, said:

“Deer represent either an opportunity or a threat, depending on your point of view and whether you are a vocational stalker, farmer, forester, hands-on deer manager, environmentalist, local authority representative or work in the public sector. They affect us all, and our challenge is to make the most of our opportunities and minimise any possible negative impacts within the parameters of deer welfare, environmental sustainability, public safety and food safety.

“Much of this may be common sense and part and parcel of what we all take to our deer management activities on a daily basis; but we are all accountable and we need to not only follow best practice and take full account of our responsibilities but also to be seen to do so.”

The event was organised and funded by the Association of Deer Management Groups, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Those who manage lowland deer can join the Lowland Deer Network. Further details from the Estate Office, Dalhousie Estates, Brechin, Angus DDP 6SG, tel 01356 624566 e:

More information is also available on the website at