Some years ago I wrote a post on the need to reduce the population of deer in Scotland, recently concern about Scottish deer population has come back into the news. Due to the amount of snow we have this winter, a larger than usual number of deer are starving. As anyone who walks in the Scottish hills will know, it is normal to find a few dead deer which haven’t survived the winter each year.
So what is the scale of the problem? Well, figures vary, but there are estimated to be between 500,000 – 750,000 red deer (Cervus elaphus) alone in Scotland, in addition, there are also more than 400,000 roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and about 40,000 sika deer (Cervus nippon). To put that in perspective, there are about 500,000 in North America. Note the difference, Scotland is a small country whereas North America is a medium size continent, but the numbers of just red deer in Scotland and all deer species in North America are about the same (remember these numbers are just estimates).
There have been suggestions from some quarters that additional feed be put out for deer to help them get through the winter, but the simple fact is the number of deer in Scotland is way greater than the carrying capacity of the land area available to them. For the good of the deer population as a whole there needs to be a longer cull this year, and we can all do our bit by eating more (or at least some) venison. In the longer term, it would also be highly beneficial to reintroduce the lynx (Lynx lynx) and the wolf (Canis lupus), but that will take many years.
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