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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 06:29 GMT
Call for deer shooting inquiry
Red deer
Some red deer are culled out of season
Gamekeepers have urged the Scottish Parliament to endorse an independent inquiry into the shooting of red deer out of season.

The gamekeepers have described the practice as cruel and immoral and they plan to petition the parliament for action.

Gamekeepers and stalkers have permission to shoot red deer over the winter to help control their numbers.

The season ends later this week but the Deer Commission for Scotland does allow some out of season shooting under licence.

It's a pretty horrible job to do but there are not enough people to control the deer in the open season

Archie Dykes, Gamekeeper
Gamekeepers allege that this means that many deer are being shot when they are heavily pregnant.

Archie Dykes, who works as a gamekeeper on Glen Dye in Aberdeenshire, said some deer are shot, under licence, out of season due to a lack of manpower during the shooting season.

He said: "More and more people are complaining about the number of deer shot out of season.

"Heavily pregnant deer are being shot in June and July which means deer calves are being left to starve to death.

"It's a pretty horrible job to do but there are not enough people on the ground to control the deer in the recognised open seasons."

Red deer
1,400 deer were culled out of season in 2001
But the Deer Commission for Scotland said that only a small percentage of deer can be culled out of season and only under strict authorisation.

In 2001, 76,000 red deer were culled, about 1,400 of them out of season - less than 2%.

The commission's director, Nick Reiter, said its policy is for people to shoot responsibly, preferably within the season.

He said: "Any responsible stalker knows how to cull deer, knows that if it is necessary to cull a deer with a calf that you do not leave the calf to suffer and die a lingering death.

"I don't know that coming at it from an emotive, subjective, and in many cases inaccurate point of view, helps anyone."

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association wants the Scottish Parliament to order an independent inquiry into the issue as soon as possible.

BBC Scotland's Colin Wight
"The issue of culling deer is an emotive one"
See also:

05 Nov 01 | Scotland
Minister backs deer cull call
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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