Deer Management

*Last updated 03:00pm, 06 January 2021




02 June 2020

Deer management during the Covid-19 pandemic Stag, Scotland

There has been some uncertainty as to whether deer stalking is an acceptable activity in the current situation.  The Scottish Government has given clear instructions that people must stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel. It is now a criminal offence for a person to leave their home except for one of the reasons set out in the new legislation.

Recommendations and restrictions issued by the UK Government regarding Coronavirus/Covid-19 can be viewed here.


New advice from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for deer sector in light of COVID-19

In line with the Scottish Government’s route map there is a staged approach to the restart of deer management activity.  As such unaccompanied stalking (or only in the presence of people from the same household) for recreation can restart as of Friday 29th May 2020. People are only permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise and are advised to stay within a short distance of their local community (broadly within 5 miles).  It is essential that those undertaking this activity follow Scottish Government and Public Health guidance and manage risks by maintaining physical distancing, hand washing and sanitisation, as this is one of the most effective ways to suppress the spread of the virus. 

Further guidance on working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19) in forestry and land management, including deer control is available here
For area based issues please get in touch with SNH local area teams.

Further details are available on the SNH website.

Lead Contact – Alastair MacGugan, telephone 07876 478305.


Association of Deer Management Groups Advice 

Red deer, ScotlandEveryone will be aware of the current situation and restrictions on movement that are in place at least for the next three weeks.

It is vital that everyone takes steps to minimise social and business interaction to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 and, wherever possible and for as long as Government stipulates, to STAY AT HOME

SNH has made available the following guidance for deer managers:

The clear message from Government and health professionals is to stay at home unless you are involved in an essential activity. In the fight back against Covid-19 deer managers should not therefore be travelling to go stalking. Deer stalking at this time is not an essential activity and undertaking stalking does carry a risk of accidents. Responding to and dealing with any incident will put the emergency services and NHS under further pressure.

Further to this ADMG is recommending deer managers should:

  • consider whether work such as Habitat Impact Assessments, training, or other activity, even if this takes place out of doors, is essential or whether it can be postponed.
  • postpone any non-essential face-to-face meetings including DMG meetings. There are online platforms that can be effectively used for small meetings such as Skype or Teams.
  • avoid all non-essential travel.
  • avoid any activity that might, through accident or error, place additional pressure on any of the emergency services.
  • check the Covid-19 Support for BusinessesGuidance for Employees, employers and businesses and other pages for notifications of measures that could help your business.

Carcase collection from larders will be affected as processors respond to the current situation. However, the Scottish Government through Scotland Food and Drink has said that businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements:

  • safe social distancing practice.
  • normal health and safety requirements.

We will issue further updates as information is made available.


Pest Control

Having spoken with Police Scotland, we understand deer stalking for pest Deer, Scotlandcontrol purpose can take place.

Anyone wishing to undertake stalking activities for pest control must inform Police Scotland and should provide the following information: named person organising shoot, any person(s) and vehicle(s) involved, firearm certificate number, area of shoot, proposed time of commencement and conclusion.

You will be given an incident number and the police will record on their system that a ‘planned shoot/pest control activity’ is taking place and notify any officers in the area. On conclusion the organiser must contact the police to notify them that the shoot has concluded.

It is advisable that stalkers carry a key worker letter which details the incident number.


To raise an issue or to ask for further information, please contact our Policy Adviser Karen Ramoo.