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Thread: Ethics ??

  1. #1

    Ethics ??

    I had a good afternoon yesterday, I had an afternoon with a group of forestry students and a deer officer from DCS.
    We looked at deer management but went on to discuss more ethical issues involving management, something DCS have been trying to kick start but it hasn't gained much momentum up here yet.

    Here's a couple of the questions we posed, I'd be interested in peoples opinions.

    Q1

    The more we manage, the more responsibility we take on for the welfare of the deer, where does our duty of care end, how much do we manage, is natural mortality acceptable.

    Q2

    Deer in Scotland are "res nullus" should this be changed? Should a land owner be legally responsible for the deer on their ground?


    I know there is more the 2 questions there, it was quite interesting the views that came across as most of the students have no connection with stalking but will in the future be responsible for deer management on large areas of forest.

  2. #2
    Q1

    The more we manage, the more responsibility we take on for the welfare of the deer, where does our duty of care end, how much do we manage, is natural mortality acceptable.
    A1 The more we manage. In the context of forestry the work managed should be changed to control. We control numbers to manage woodland. I feel that built into any woodland should be natural breaks not only for deer but wildlife in general. Crop damaging wildlife has a raw deal. Woodland tends to go down to arable boundaries. It takes up the slack from what is arable to what is moorland. All that is left is the less/unproductive ground. Like what happened when the snow drove down the deer to the forestry suddenly deer become vermin to be shot on site. Migratory routes are blocked so of deer populate tighter areas giving rise to claims overstock. A claim that is borne out by the fact that they must compete for the food available.

    Rather than ask where the duty of care ends maybe we should challenge the powers as to where it begins. Reintroduce wolves, reintroduce eagles, reintroduce beaver is the call. Why, we have an iconic species we are doing our level best to wipe out? Forestry calls for woodland in nice straight lines. SNH calls for natural woodland. It is land management without consideration of the current inhabitants re wildlife. Deer must eat. The forestry plan could incorporate areas to feed deer minimizing the detrimental effect of deer in the forest. Roe especially will not harm fir if there is an alternative.
    Natural mortality has to be acceptable. However is manufactured natural mortality acceptable (the introduction of wolves, sea-eagles) less acceptable. Bad enough the picture of the big, bad, bambi-slayer butchering poor wee deer on the hill what about the pack of wolves tearing to shreds the fawn in the rushes by the forestry walk. Will man ever allow the deer to reach maturity and old age in the forestry world? Hill deer have a better chance. Forest stalking leases for one are a license to kill deer. Very few leases are managed for the good of the herd. Unless open peripheral ground is included most is pot luck stalking taking what is available. If I were to travel 200 miles to stalk in a forestry block the selection would start and finish in the deer seen. The forestry lamper is there to cull deer numbers. Again there is some but not a lot of “I will leave that one, that ones can go.” I am not saying the forestry adage of its brown is down is the only criteria before the cullers get on my back. However it is a numbers game, quantity over quality. Only by good fortune will the deer die a natural birth.
    Q2

    Deer in Scotland are "res nullus" should this be changed? Should a land owner be legally responsible for the deer on their ground?


    No

    Deer are a wild migratory animal not recognizing farm boundaries. However where deer numbers are detrimental to other land users including neighbors, public road users, local communities action should be permissible to order a cull. A prime example appeared on the site when a member bought his own wood. Say he failed to maintain the numbers. He then fails in his duty of care to the farmers surrounding the wood. Without action the deer will do untold damage. There has to be a form of arbitration where a body, DCS,ENH can turn round and say. Reduce numbers by 30%. As a wild creature deer has a form of protection. As owned by the property holder it loses that protection. At the moment public opinion sides with the deer. Law suits for damaged cars, neighbor’s crops. Many farmers would rather they were shot to extinction if the alternative was to end up in court for a wild animal that happened to cross his land. Then what next. Pheasants on the road causes a problem. Bees from your hive stings a walker. Too big a can of worms to open,

    Just my rumblings,
    Jim

  3. #3
    Good rumblings though Jim. Bambi did you get the feeling that the students were on side / responsive?

    The natural mortality thing is a difficult one as I cannot imagine that any of us would allow beasts to suffer lingering deaths. But then you look at some of the East African conservation groups that will not interfere in any way with nature's way - perhaps rightly so. I couldn't walk past a suffering creature and leave it, but maybe I'm just going soft. Quite happy not pulling a trigger at all some days. Happy enough dragging or ghillieing and giving others a hand.

    Interesting topic!


  4. #4
    As all but one student didn't have any stalking experience or the delight of being responsible for a heavily browsed restock they were quite pro deer.
    The way we approached it was , when I started with the dcs[then rdc] the government thinking of the day was that of integrated land use, it is quite different now especially as agri is in such a bad way, the government thinking is , what is the public cost/benefit & what is the private cost/benefit ?
    Deer are more and more being accepted as not only being iconic but also an assett especially on remote rural locations

    So I think the feeling was that as an assett present within a forest then it should be managed sustainably and ethically, remember these are students who are still idealistic however I think they will go into the job slightly more enlightened than their predessessors

  5. #5
    Q1

    The more we manage, the more responsibility we take on for the welfare of the deer, where does our duty of care end, how much do we manage, is natural mortality acceptable.

    In forests the balance, in my view, is a simple one; where there is a young crop of trees to protect deer need to be excluded or shot. A deer fence works a treat however where fencing is not an option then the rifle works a treat. As soon as the trees are well established then deer can be increase in number to sensible levels. Unfortunately “sensible” levels in a productive forest will always be lower than on the open hill of a sporting estate but the foresters duty of care extends to a multitude of other creatures not just the deer. I agree that the easiest approach is to shoot as many deer as possible but rest assured we will never eradicate them as the laws of diminishing returns kick in. I suggest you take advantage of this situation as woodlands will always require many man hours of stalking to keep the trees in prime condition plus I don’t see why keeping numbers low is a welfare/moral/poor management issue

    Less productive or non-timber woodlands offer the best of both worlds. A short, sharp shock for the deer in the short term as the trees are being established, however this is counter-balanced by decades of above average numbers of deer when the forest is opened up to the deer.. The deer will prefer the new habitat and thrive. The deer manager will be able to put into place a long term DMP that keeps guests happy and the money rolling in. A good woodland stag is the ultimate iconic image as far as I’m concerned.




    Q2

    Deer in Scotland are "res nullus" should this be changed? Should a land owner be legally responsible for the deer on their ground?

    I think that many landowners are finding that they are responsible for the wellbeing of their land and the creatures that occupy it. I’m referring to the management of SSSI’s; if a SSSI is deemed to be in “unfavourable” condition the landowner is obliged to sort the problem. If the problem relates to deer (overgrazing) then the deer will need to be managed one way or another. No need for any change re the status of deer.

    Regards

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