In response to the launch of the first detailed map of Scotland’s native woodlands by Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “We agree with well sited planting of native woodland, providing it is fenced, but we fear the danger in this considerable piece of work is that conservationists will translate it as a green light to hammer Scotland’s deer, which is not the long-term answer.
“Conservation groups are quick to claim there are too many deer. What is rarely mentioned is that, since 2004, there’s been a 10 per cent drop in deer numbers in the Monadhliaths. There’s been a 26 per cent drop in Knoydart in 7 years and 14 per cent drop in West Sutherland in seven years.
“A lot of the aggressive reductions of deer have been to protect unfenced forestry.
In an FOI to SNH, we learned that in one of the two closed seasons in 2013, 99 licences out of 113 were applied for, to kill females out of season to protect unfenced forestry.
Not only is it having a serious affect on deer numbers regionally, it raises serious welfare questions for deer, which are now being culled all year round.
“Trees should be treated as a crop. A plant that is going to live for 200 years deserves respect and should be protected for the first 15 years of its life from deer, hares, rabbits and sheep. This is particularly true of Scotland where both soil and climate are poor for native woodland and where it takes very little grazing to hamper regeneration.”
Scottish Gamekeepers Association