The British Deer Society has considered the GOV.UK guidance notes ‘Plant trees to extend existing woodland’ published on the Government website on 7 June 2021.
We are concerned by the repeated use of the term ‘pest’ in reference to deer, which in our opinion, is an unacceptable and insensitive term to describe iconic mammals which demand intelligent and humane management, and which not only enhance our countryside but also boost the rural economy.
This terminology also encourages a misleading impression of their legal protected status and does not adequately emphasize the requirements of the Deer Act 1991, regarding closed seasons and permitted control methods.
We note that, although exclusion is given coverage, there is no specific mention of active deer management options which would help to professionally control deer numbers. We consider the Government to be setting poor guidance by describing British deer as ‘pests’ and would suggest this reflects poorly on the advisors and policy writers currently being used.
We also note that the recommended mesh sizes for fences, although largely sufficient to exclude deer, differ somewhat from the recommendations elsewhere on the GOV.UK web pages or in various Forestry Commission documents as well as our own, and we would be interested to know the authority quoted.
In addition, we would wish to see priority placed on the need for fences to be adequately constructed and tensioned, and the importance of avoiding the use of inappropriate materials which might entangle deer, livestock or other wildlife.
The British Deer Society has over 60 years’ experience in deer management and would be willing to support the Government in the preparation of a British deer policy and is prepared to provide appropriate advice on deer management and deer fencing on request.
We would urgently request a meeting with the relevant parties responsible for writing this publication to help clarify and improve on the terminology and advice given and provide expert support.