Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Red Deer in Ormsaigbeg

A recent red deer count found that there were at least 250 red deer to the west of the Ardnamurchan Estate deer fence - most therefore on croft land common grazings but also some coming down into the townships. This video shows red deer feeding in a field in Ormsaigbeg last night - the date on the camera is incorrect.


  1. forgive my ignorance but if the deer are not on estate land, then who do they legally belong to ... does the fact that they're on croft land mean that crofters can cull them

  2. I had hoped that someone else would answer this, cazinatutu, as I'm no expert in this area. I think the answer is that deer like these don't belong to anyone, any more than a fox does. Normally, they can be shot on land with the permission of the landowner and according to the normal rules - like that it's in season - but, if they're causing damage, they can be culled at any time.

  3. cazinatutu - I have now been given two links which answer your question in full:

    http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/05/2852/298190 and


  4. Wild deer in Scotland are considered in law as 'res nullius' which means that they do not belong to anyone. However, the owner/occupier or their agent has the right to kill and take within statutory seasons. He can pass this right to kill and take to other individuals but only the owner/occupier or agent or duly authorised individuals can kill and take out of season for the reasons detailed below:-

    1. Deer may be killed or taken out of season to prevent damage to agriculture - further info on definition of agriculture can be found but it is considered to exclude common grazing and open range
    2. Deer may be killed or taken out of season for damage to woodlands and commercial forestry where they are doing damage or likely to do damage
    3. Deer may be killed or taken out of season to prevent damage to natural heritage features and designated sites
    4. Deer may be killed or taken out of season in the interests of public safety ie carriageways or roads where they present a risk of accidents

    However, throughout the period 1st April to 1 October anyone wishing to kill or take FEMALE deer, requires by law authorisation from SNH who will investigate the case before issuing a license. Likewise, deer may not be killed and taken at night with the use of search lights or vision enhancing equipment without a licence from SNH. Anyone applying for a licence requires to be on the 'fit and competent' register and to have acquired the necessary qualifications or two referees to vouch for the competency and ability. Any person submitting deer carcasses for sale requires to hold 'trained hunter' status and needs to inspect the carcass and sign that it is fit for human consumption.

    Annually individuals culling deer are required to make a return to government regarding the amount of taken as this helps to inform national and local deer management planning.

    The Ardnamurchan peninsula is covered by the Ardnamurchan Deer Management Group which is currently completing a plan for the area which will be available for public consultation in the very near future. It will detail plans, culling, management and culling levels for the whole peninsula.

    The deer population on Ardnamurchan has changed little in number from the 1980's but there has been a general migration to the West. This is largely due to changes in forest structure and declining numbers of sheep. All culls are set to maintain the population at a sustainable level to secure employment, protect habitats, provide a low carbon local food source.

    It is always worth considering that wild deer present a huge opportunity for community involvement and generate around £140 million pounds to the Scottish economy each year. Current open range deer populations are estimated at 275,000 and currently share the open range with a winter sheep population of 980,000 sheep. In natural heritage terms, only a small percentage of designated habitats are affected by deer (around 16%).

    At this time of year, like all grazers, they are attracted to fresh grass but in the next week or so, they will disperse into the woodlands and high ground as the grass comes away.

    Anyone requiring further information should contact either West Highland Hunting which manages a number of highland estates and community interests or the local Ardnamurchan Deer Management Group.

    1. thanks very much for your detailed reply, Fay
      when I asked the question I had absolutely no idea that the answer would be so complicated
      I'm very grateful to you all for taking the time and effort to educate me

  5. thanks for that Jon - it's complex indeed
    so what does it mean in practice then - do you all get to have venison steaks on the menu regularly