Deer In The Highlands

Until apex predators return, the annual deer cull is a necessary conservation tool.

It is not commonly understood that Great Britain has one of the most altered landscapes in Europe.  Over the last millennium we have decimated more than 95% of our native woodlands for industry and to make way for urbanisation, farming and livestock grazing. With the forests gone large carnivores such as wolves, bears and lynx became a problem for farmers and were persecuted to extinction. In the past these predators controlled deer numbers, a natural process which enabled plants and trees to regenerate organically.

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– THE MAJESTIC, YET TREE-LESS, SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS (© KATHERINE JANE WOOD)

The British deer population is currently believed to be at its highest level for 1,000 years.

Scotland has a burgeoning deer population- in some extreme cases up to 25 animals per km2- which has a negative impact on the landscape and biodiversity in general. In the absence of natural predators, deer culling is an essential part of land management throughout Scotland. At Alladale Wilderness Reserve, along with a growing number of other environmentally conscious estates , we aim to keep deer densities to a more natural level of around 6-7 animals per km2.

Deer Stag at Alladale Wilderness Reserve

– DEER AT ALLADALE WILDERNESS RESERVE (© KATHERINE JANE WOOD)

This approach has proven to enhance the recovery of the native forest and plant cover, creating an improved landscape for small mammals, birds and insect life. The annual costs for controlling deer numbers at Alladale are partially offset by guests who wish to pay to hunt deer, along with accommodation revenues and venison sales . Ultimately the cull is a necessary conservation tool.

If you would like to visit Alladale, or to find out more please click here.