The Future of Deer Management in South West Scotland

Deer management in South West Scotland is changling
Deer management in South West Scotland is changling

Important changes to deer management in Scotland announced this week will affect landowners in South-west Scotland.

The Chairman of the South West Scotland Deer Management Group, Maitland Rankin said this week that anyone with deer on their land now has a responsibility to manage those deer populations – however small, however local – sustainably under the SNH Code of Practice on Deer Management, unless you are a public body in which case you have a ‘duty’ with regard to deer management.

“The Scottish Government is pressing for improved and more transparent deer management structures covering the entire country. This is not only an upland issue but also one of importance to all landowners,” said Mr Rankin. “Low ground landowners have so far been protected from many of the issues concerning Highland estates; this is slowly changing and they must be prepared to recognise and accept these changes also.

“The updated policy document Scotland’s Wild Deer – A National Approach Includes 2015 - 2020 priorities and is a ‘must read’ for all landowners who have deer on their land.

“This can be obtained from Scottish Natural Heritage: or via http:/

Further important reference is the Deer Code, also obtainable from SNH or via

These booklets present, in clear language, the Government position with regard to wild deer in Scotland, the benefits of a sustainable population and acknowledge the huge public interest in the subject.

“As a matter of urgency those who manage deer should contact their local Lowland Deer Group or Deer Management Group and sign up. The network of LDGs and DMGs allows information to be passed on to members quickly and comprehensively.

“The South West Scotland Deer Management Group has recently divided into three. Previously we attempted to operate across the entire SWS area from the A 74 to the Irish Sea meaning that we were the largest Group in Scotland in terms of land area, numbers of landholdings, species of deer and quite possibly numbers of deer stalkers/managers. However, to meet the needs of a modern Deer Management Group this structure had to change and, under guidance from the Lowland Deer Network Scotland, our area has split into three, West, Central and East.

“Many landholdings will already have some level of deer management planning in place. A next step is to draw these plans together to form an area plan for each of the DMGs. Equally however there are many areas with little or no management planning and hard work and engagement are required to bring everyone up to speed. The alternative will most likely be legislation - so doing nothing is not an option. Three separate, well-supported Deer Groups working together in South West Scotland can be more influential in reaching policy makers.

“There is a vacancy for the position of Secretary of the Galloway Group. This is a first class opportunity to receive an education in the management of Scotland’s most iconic land mammal. Computer skills would are a distinct advantage (regrettably at the moment this is a voluntary position with expenses only).”

Local Deer Management Group areas

West of the A712 to the Irish Sea and including some of South Ayrshire, Chairman Glen Heggs, tel: 01655 770672 or 07831 750618 e: Group has become the Wigtownshire and South Ayrshire Lowland Deer Group.

The East of the area from A76 to A74, including some areas around New Abbey,

Chairman Paul Adkins, tel: 01576 300579 e: This Group is the East Dumfries and Galloway Deer Management Group.

The Central area between these two new Groups continues as the Galloway Deer Management Group, Chairman, Maitland Rankin t: 01644 420259 e:

Anyone managing deer in the region should make contact with one of these Groups to be kept fully informed regarding ongoing developments.