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Thread: Sutherland deer poor condition due to the bad weather

  1. #1

    Sutherland deer poor condition due to the bad weather

    Went walkabout to a mate of mine,s to help out with the last of the hind cull in Sutherland, only to look at starving deer due to our incriminate weather, on talking to the various estate stalkers, the dead that are laying around will make a huge impact on highland stalking, in the next 5 to 7 years ,I watched large numbers of Red calves , in groups on the hill which the hinds ( mothers ) have no doubt died due to the over hard weather, in that area ,here's a few pics if you look at the Royal with his head back you can see just how thin he is, the hinds are extremely thin the game dealers, are condemning large numbers of deer due the there poor condition .

  2. #2

    a couple of the hinds look ok. I am surprised that your mate was culling any if it was that bad, or was he mopping up the worst conditioned animals? That stag does look a bit weary, hopefully the fine fella will make it through.

    Unfortunately, we still have the wet and windy to come yet, thats what can knock the stuffing out of them, especially when they are already below par.

    Good photos.


  3. #3
    Jingzy: A mop up job is just about right, the biggest problem is the Deer commission cull figures, larder figures should tally up to the same number somewhere along the line .
    You can see the Deer laying dead along the side of the forestry fences it was a few days of snow chains everything above Lairg was the Xmas card look without the snow chains on, the single track roads were a no go area.

  4. #4
    A cold driving rain in March and April would really screw things up further. It's hard on them when they're already in such bad condition.

  5. #5
    dont take this the wrong way as i dont know much about it up your way, but wouldnt they come down to a few round bales of hay/silage were left for them.or would only a few come for it? poor buggers they havent half just had a bad winter! on a lighter note we noticed fester has had a very good winter hes the shape of a barrel now

  6. #6
    I understand the deer commission setting cull figures Widows son but surely they have a back out clause. Every one knows this has been a very bad winter and there is more to come yet. It might be worth you giving them a call and asking them to reduce the cull in that area. All the best on the rest of the deer.

  7. #7
    They know about the condition the deer are in. They have recently done their deer count, by helicopter, and the word from a stalker doing it with them was that deer were lying dead in the hundreds out on the hill.


  8. #8
    Lot of things I couldn't give a damn about, but hate the thought of deer suffering. They will all support the seals and otters and 'lesser-spotted-Siberian-corncrake-eagle-badger' or whatever, but the grandest of our mammals is left to starve.

    Did you see on Sky News y'day about the cattle herds freezing to death in Mongolia? -50 degrees celsius!

    - Craig

  9. #9
    Its been below freezing and snow since before Christmas and we have at least another 6 perhaps 8 weeks of hard weather to go. I think there will not be so many roe this year but the ones i have seen don't look in bad condition. they must be really struggling to find food though.
    Our roe did go into the winter in very good condition the ones we shot in november were very fat. The Moose have no problen with this type of weather.
    Sad as it is to see the red deer suffering perhaps its natures way of balancing things out.

  10. #10
    I suppose the harsh reality is that nature is affecting its own cull on numbers. I did quite a bit of research into the carrying capacity of ruminents - notably deer and antelope on marginal lands. Admittadely most of what I looked at was how antelope can survive the African dry season when food is minimal, but what seemed to be the key for good survival rates through the hard times was having a sufficiently low stocking density that all the animals were in very good condition prior to the lean times, and then being for the animals to be able to find sufficient food to enable them to survive on a mix of food and body fat reserves.

    What seems to happen if there is a degree of overstocking, none of the animals get a sufficient level of nutrition to enable them to put on sufficient reserves and thus you get a much bigger die off during the harsh times.

    What is also critical to a ruminent is having a source of protein / nitrogen in their diet - c15%, without which they cannot derive any energy from the rest of their diet - you can keep cattle etc alive for a long time on ammonia treated straw, or even newspaper that has been peed on.

    If you also consider that much of the Scottish hill ground is devoid of trees and other forms of cover then the deer don't have any natural shelter, nor access to any form of really nutitous food such as fallen acorns etc. All the will have to eat on the hill is old grass, heather and moss, all of which at this time of year will be very low in protein. If they could get to woodlands and thus access to nuts etc, this will make a huge difference, but in most cases the deer will be fenced out of the woodland.

    What seems to keep african animals alive through their winter, is the availabilty of seed pods from mopane etc - high in nitrogen thus allowing them to gain nutrition from dried grass, leaves etc.

    Not that these provides any answers, but there is clearly a big conflict in the land management with on the one hand estates being valued by the number of deer that are on the land / can be stalked per annum giving huge pressures on keeping numbers high versus the requirements of foresters who view deer as vermin versus the likes of the DCS who are trying to take an overall view etc etc.

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