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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 14:02 GMT
Minister backs deer cull call
Deer
There are concerns about the effect on the landscape
The culling of deer in Scotland must continue in order to curb damage to the countryside, according to Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie.

Mr Finnie said a downturn in demand for venison should not deter landowners from continuing with the cull.

Concerns have been raised that Scotland has too many deer and they can have a devastating impact on the landscape - reducing what should be tree and heather cover to short grassland.

Every winter up to 30,000 hinds have been culled to try to reduce the problem, and half of the venison produced is usually sold overseas.

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Launched strategy document
However, the shutting down of the export market because of foot-and-mouth has raised concerns about what would happen to culled carcasses.

The minister made a call for continued culling during the launch of Scotland's first long-term strategy for wild deer, in Dunkeld, Perthshire.

Mr Finnie said there was evidence of increasing damage to the countryside and efforts to keep the situation under control should carry on.

The minister said: "Despite concerns over the present lack of venison exports, it is imperative that deer culling efforts are maintained.

"Damage to agriculture, forestry and the environment is increasing and action must be taken before the situation becomes unmanageable."

'Key document'

The new strategy, entitled Wild Deer in Scotland; A Long Term Vision, aims to ensure manageable levels of deer stock over the next 15 to 20 years and was devised by the Deer Commission for Scotland.

Mr Finnie said: "This strategy sits alongside the Scottish Executive's rural development, natural heritage, forestry and agriculture strategies and underlines our commitment to both the environment and rural development."

Andrew Raven chairman of the Deer Commission for Scotland, said: "This strategy is a key document for the Deer Commission and forms part of an integrated hierarchy of plans which guide our actions and priorities."

Andrew Raven
Andrew Raven: "Key document"
The Association of Deer Management Groups has backed the commission's proposals and also said it had been cheered by a recent increase in the UK's appetite for venison.

In September this year there were fears that culled deer might need to be dumped in burial pits because of foot-and-mouth disease.

Some landowners had suggested a surplus of venison on the domestic market could make a cull unprofitable.

That raised fears some Scottish estates might leave carcasses to rot on the hillside where they were shot.

Others were thought to be considering putting the cull off to next year, hence the commission's call for it go ahead as normal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Andrew Raven, Deer Commission
"Venison is covered by the export ban"
See also:

30 Sep 01 | Scotland
Culled deer may be dumped
04 Sep 01 | Scotland
Food watchdog sounds meat fears
09 Dec 00 | Scotland
Castaways' illegal deer kill
17 Sep 99 | Sheffield 99
Call for return of Scottish wolves
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