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Thread: Use of shotgun to kill deer

  1. #1

    Use of shotgun to kill deer

    I was asked by some farmers if it was legal to use a shotgun to kill deer. I am going to reply as follows:

    A shotgun may be used to kill deer in two circumstances:
    1. If it is an act of mercy, andthis can take place during hours of darkness.
    2. In order to prevent furtherserious damage to crops etc. The killing cannot take place during the hoursof darkness. In addition the shotgun used must be 12g or larger, AAA shot onlymay be used or single non-spherical projectile weighing not less than 350grains.

    As an example, shooting a muntjac while out rabbitingwould be likely to be illegal on several counts:

    1. Difficulty in proving preventionof serious damage.
    2. There is no exception to killingdeer at night apart from act of mercy.
    3. You would be unlikely to beshooting rabbits with AAA shot or a single non-spherical projectile weighing notless than 350 grains!

    I am posting this for someone to please check to make sure I've got it 100% right! I know the relevant sections of the Deer Act so no need to cover those.

    Thanks David


  2. #2
    I wouldnt try to paraphrase or interpret

    just quote

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/54/section/7

    although the BDS have been campaigning to close this exception for years

    7Exceptions for occupiers etc. of land where deer are.
    (1)
    Subject to subsection (3) below, a person to whom this section applies shall not be guilty of an offence under section 2 above by reason of
    (a)

    the taking or killing of any deer by means of shooting, or
    (b)

    the injuring of any deer by means of shooting in an attempt to take or kill it,
    on any cultivated land, pasture or enclosed woodland.

    (2)

    Subject to subsection (3) below, a person to whom this section applies shall not be guilty of an offence under section 4(2)(a) above by reason of the use, for the purpose of taking or killing any deer on any land, of any smooth-bore gun of not less gauge than 12 bore which is loaded with—
    (a)

    a cartridge containing a single non-spherical projectile weighing not less than 22.68 grammes (350 grains); or
    (b)

    a cartridge purporting to contain shot each of which is .203 inches (5.16 millimetres) in diameter (that is to say, size AAA).

    (3)

    A person to whom this section applies shall not be entitled to rely on the defence provided by subsection (1) or subsection (2) above as respects anything done in relation to any deer on any land unless he shows that—
    (a)

    he had reasonable grounds for believing that deer of the same species were causing, or had caused, damage to crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber or any other form of property on the land;
    (b)

    it was likely that further damage would be so caused and any such damage was likely to be serious; and
    (c)

    his action was necessary for the purpose of preventing any such damage.

    (4)

    The persons to whom this section applies are—
    (a)

    the occupier of the land on which the action is taken;
    (b)

    any member of the occupier’s household normally resident on the occupier’s land, acting with the written authority of the occupier;
    (c)

    any person in the ordinary service of the occupier on the occupier’s land, acting with the written authority of the occupier; and
    (d)

    any person having the right to take or kill deer on the land on which the action is taken or any person acting with the written authority of a person having that right.
    (5)

    The Secretary of State and the agriculture Minister acting jointly may by order, either generally or in relation to any area or any species and description of deer specified in the order,—
    (a)

    repeal subsection (2) above or amend it by adding any firearm or ammunition or by altering the description of, or deleting, any firearm or ammunition for the time being mentioned in it;
    (b)

    amend subsection (3) above by adding any further conditions which must be satisfied or by varying or deleting any conditions so added.
    (6)

    Before making any order under subsection (5) above the Secretary of State and the agriculture Minister shall consult organisations that appear to them to represent persons likely to be interested in or affected by the order.
    (7)

    In this section “agriculture Minister” means—
    (a)

    in relation to England, the [F1Secretary of State]; and
    (b)

    in relation to Wales, the Secretary of State.
    Last edited by bewsher500; 10-10-2012 at 13:35.

  3. #3
    Thanks but as I said I know the relevant sections but am just checking that I have summed it up reasonably well and havent missed anything obvious. It will go out with a warning that it is my summary and will be accompanied by the relevant sections.

  4. #4
    SD Regular NorthDorset's Avatar
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    My summary to a Farmer would be;

    No you can't use a shotgun to kill deer. There are some legal loopholes but you probably don't want to rely on them. If they are a problem my number is xxxxxx

  5. #5
    I asked BASC (replied to my email following day) to check it and it was fine with a couple of minor additions as follows:

    A shotgun may be used to kill deer in two circumstances:

    1.If it is an act of mercy,and this can take place during hours of darkness.

    2.In order to prevent furtherserious damage to crops etc. The killing cannot take place during thehours of darkness. In addition the shotgun used must be 12g or larger, AAA shotonly may be used or single non-spherical projectile weighing not less than350grains and used from a distance not more than 25-30 meters and the deer mustbe shot in situ. (literally caught in the act!)

    As an example, shooting amuntjac while out rabbiting would be likely to be illegal on several counts:

    1.Difficulty in provingprevention of serious damage, because the killing musttake place on the land where the damage is occurring, not the land wherethe deer come from.
    2.There is noexception to killing deer at night apart from act of mercy.
    3.You would be unlikely to beshooting rabbits with AAA shot or a single non-spherical projectile weighingnot less than 350 grains!

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member 223's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthDorset View Post
    My summary to a Farmer would be;

    No you can't use a shotgun to kill deer. There are some legal loopholes but you probably don't want to rely on them. If they are a problem my number is xxxxxx
    +1

  7. #7
    daw, not entirely agreeing with your section about catching them in the act. The deer must be of the same species causing the damage, and must be on the same ground where the damage is occurring. Nothing says that they actually have to be causing the damage at the time.

    Remeber that S7 is a DEFENCE. An offence is committed when shooting a deer with anything other than a deer legal rifle, except as an act of mercy. If you can prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that you benefit from the defence then you will not be convicted. It would be something that would be for the court to decide.

  8. #8
    We can discuss the whys and wherefores until the cows come home and it will make little difference. What we need to consider is some case law. Does anyone know of any cases which have been before magistrates or higher courts that we can refer to for a clear outcome of this defence?

  9. #9
    When I did my DSC1 many years ago with the late Ronnie Rose, there was I recall discussion on this. Fundamentally the use of Shotguns was kept in to give farmers some means to prevent serious damage. The emphasis is on the "serious damage"and the suggestion was that it would really need to be that deer had got into say an enclosed vegetable crop and there was no means of scaring them off. Deer nibling winter wheat would n't count (indeed probably helps it to tiller), but getting inside a poly tunnel full of lettuces definately would. Make sure that the deer is shot on the site of the damage and that it has plenty of evidence inside its rumen. In all cases there is a duty to shoot the animal humanely and ensure minimal suffering. I would certainly take some pictures if at all possible, as unfortunately these days there are too many people looking over the fence.

  10. #10
    As an aside, at last renewal my FAC was partially revoked because of this very issue!

    My FLD stated that they had conducted a force-wide survey into 12g slug use on the basis of the 'Farmers Defence' being the 'good reason' for grant, and had decided that it was not to be allowed to continue.

    The fact that my 'good reason' was for shooting boar abroad (and that I had never even referred to the S7 defence), didn't seem to occur to them despite my clearly stating it on the Form 201!

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