Deer shooting rules change

A number of important changes for shooting deer during close seasons and at night come into effect from April 1, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has advised.

SNH now must authorise any deer culled out of season. Previously, there was an exemption for owners and occupiers, who were allowed to cull deer out of season without authorisation to prevent damage on improved agricultural ground and in enclosed woodland.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s head of wildlife operations, explained: “I’d like to reassure owners and occupiers that they won’t have to get authority from us every time they need to cull deer and protect their interests. We can now issue both specific and general authorisations, so we intend to issue a general licence to owners and occupiers who need to cull deer to prevent damage to farmland or enclosed woodland.”

These general licences will cover from April 1 to March 31, 2013. However, the licence won’t allow the culling of female deer of any species from April 1 to August 31. Any owners who are suffering damage from deer and want to cull female deer from April 1 to August 31 must apply to SNH for a specific authorisation.

There is also a change in authorisations for shooting deer at night. SNH may now also authorise night shooting in the interests of public safety – for example, where there is an increased risk of deer vehicle collisions. This change allows SNH to authorise deer being shot at night where daytime culling has been tried, but has not been effective in reducing risk to public safety interests.

For more information or for application forms, see