Read the comments on this report from John Bruce Chairman BDS Scottish Council
The commissioning of this report was considered by many to be inappropriate when announced because it was obvious to the sector that since 2014 when Deer Management Groups were challenged to redraft and publish their new micro-management Deer Management Plans in 2016 no evidence of impact could be assessed in the intervening period as Habitat Impact Assessments take five years to record and another year to assess the findings; it has been too short a period for these plans to exhibit any impact variance.
The report is also ill-timed because the effect of the reduction in hill sheep by some 600,000 which began in 2001, peaking again 2006/2009, and dropping every year since has yet to be assessed; it is too soon in this enormous de-stocking event to predict the impact that the remaining deer or other herbivores will have. The James Hutton Institute, which has been working on assessing the impact for years, is due to publish its findings in early 2017.
The report has no evidence to substantiate its conclusion and the conclusion is also somewhat damning of Deer Management Groups which is an insult to all those voluntary organisations who have undertaken so much time, effort and expense to produce the Deer Management Plans demanded.
It is not clear why the conclusion should be at such extreme odds with the main text which explains and applauds the efforts of the Deer Management Groups. There are several statistical issues, interpretation issues and also a lack of aspirations revealed in the main report. These will require in depth explanation, but there remains a distinct gap between the two elements of the report, it is as if the conclusion was composed quite separately from the main text, some time ago.
We look forward to a Government response in early 2017 and shall engage in the future development of deer management in the light of evidence and with a scientific approach.
NOTE BDS submitted further written evidence (8 pages) to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee on 6th December