Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 14:44 UK

'Encourage more' to deer stalking

Red deer stags
Professor MacMillan said red deer are an asset that is under utilised

Opening up deer stalking to more than just the sporting estate elite would help the economy and control animal numbers, an academic has suggested.

Prof Douglas MacMillan, an expert on the economics of wildlife management, said many landowners remained rooted in Victorian-era traditions.

The advisor to the Scottish government said stalking should be more accessible.

But a group representing landowners said such a move was "unrealistic".

Prof MacMillan, of the University of Kent, said: "We have a situation in Scotland where we have too many deer in certain places doing quite a lot of damage. That damage is harming the rural economy.

"We have an asset which is deer which is under managed and under utilised and could be better managed for the rural economy."

He added: "I think we have a win-win situation by encouraging more people to participate in hunting. It is an excellent wild food, it's a great form of recreational activity and for the landowners it is a great way of increasing their income."

However, the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, which represents landowners, has dismissed the call.

Chief executive Douglas MacAdam said encouraging more people to shoot deer in the hills was unrealistic for reasons of safety and animal welfare.

He said it would make the job of professional stalkers even more challenging.

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