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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 00:29 GMT 01:29 UK
Warning on deer population boom
Red deer
The report said red deer were threatening other wildlife
Red deer numbers are rising so fast that other wildlife is at risk, a study has warned.

Deer numbers have rocketed to 400,000 - to the delight of the tourist industry and shooting parties.

But ecologists have warned the boom is threatening woodlands, which are important habitats for more vulnerable species and native plants.

Fears about the effect of the deer population have been aired in the new edition of the BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Damage has reached such a serious level that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has produced a long list of areas where it will miss government targets for improving nationally important nature reserves.

Conservationists at SNH have already pulled out of two reserves - in Wester Ross and Angus, where damage is out of control.

Warnings had already been issued about the soaring deer population

The population explosion has been caused by recent mild winters and the deer's lack of a natural predator.

Estate owners have insisted culling is expensive and sources in the US have cast doubt on suggestions to reintroduce wolves in an effort to curb the deer boom.

Other options include imposing fines on landowners who fail to meet cull targets or changing the red deer's legal status so that anyone with a proper licence is allowed to shoot them.

A report in 2003 discovered that wild deer numbers had reached record levels in Scotland - with a devastating impact on parts of the countryside.

The study was commissioned by conservation groups WWF Scotland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland.

Call to rein in deer population
23 Sep 03 |  Scotland
Call for wolves to be reintroduced
25 Jun 02 |  Scotland
Deer 'pose risk' to drivers
22 Apr 02 |  Scotland
Call for deer shooting inquiry
11 Feb 02 |  Scotland
Minister backs deer cull call
05 Nov 01 |  Scotland

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