The following is a summery of the Lowland Deer Network Scotland. The views are my own and represent no group or body.
Unfortunately Gazza had to call off at the last minute, CBS and I attended the meeting. Initially the meeting seemed to be taking a familiar line with Stewart Stevenson MSP Minister for environment and climate change discussing Wane. Usual input re farmers needing to accept responsibility for deer. The responsibility for deer control is given to the land owner who can pass on the responsibility to a third party. Not much fresh, political answers to awkward questions. I posed the one re deer being over culled. Back to the usual gambit SNH are there as advisory to a voluntary code of practice.
Second up was Andrew Thin, again round a familiar circle. We all know some areas have higher deer populations than another. Some farmers and landowners are soft on deer management. Some farmers do not appreciate that deer management is part of their remit. This may change and may give DMG’s an opportunity. Well presented by a career politician. Both had to leave before the real questions began.
Third up was Robbie Kernahan, Wildlife operations manager, snh. More numbers crunching and veiled promises. Like the promises before we are shown a rosy future but when it will happen?
The NLDMG presentation, Presentation well presented by lacked dynamics. A history which carried little interest. Little or nothing to promote DMG’s as a credible force. No sales pitch that any pro manager (and that was 50% of the gathering) would take on board as a possible solution to a deer problem.
Afternoon was led by FCE chairman, Good presentation from Ian Ferguson re the new form the leases will take. Credible and feasible, but what it will do to the process in the long run.
NFUS, trying to sell deer management to its members. Some make money, some ignore the problem. Came up with only farmers talk to farmers, win over one and the rest will follow. Difficulty is finding the one.
Best practice. Mike Cotton told us of its outstanding success. I suggested they come up with a sister publication for farmers, he has taken it on board. If it comes up WLDMG deserves the credit.
There followed a question time with little of substance. Caused a stir on asking about night lamping of deer and checks before licence issued. SNH, stringent checks on all applications, FCE closed out the topic immediately not wanting that can of worms opened.
Richard Cooke closed with a short sales pitch for LDNS, £25 per head, Looking to become the spokespersons for Lowland deer management.
To sum up LDNS has little to offer as a whole as it stands. Taken the level of professionalism and the clout they already carry to get a SoS, SNH chairman, FCE chairman to support the sales pitch and to get the proliferation of land agents, estate owners, and professionals there to buy in DMG’s would be overwhelmed. When Richard Cooke suggested to NFUS rep that he should tell the farmers the deer could actually be a cash crop the intake of breath was audible. Widows Son rounded on that one. It puts nothing on the table that would let me suggest 25 pounds per head from every DMG member would be a sound investment. It was a credible power play from a powerful lobby group within the ADMG.
My feelings are the local DMG’s would be marginalised and left to rot if this line was followed. I suggested a similar system contained within the LDMGs three years ago only to be told a central grouping was too much too soon. Now a well funded body backed by the major stalking estates are muscling us out. Significant SNH deer lads were present including Ronnie Rose but not in an active capacity. Their hope is 1000 members by Christmas at £25 a head. That is a serious fighting fund.