Defra launch a consultation on a proposed deer management strategy designed to tackle England’s growing deer population.

woodland stalker range day 2

Blink and you’d miss it! Defra’s consultation on a proposed deer management strategy has provided a brief window of just 29 days for feedback (04th August – 02nd September), while many people, including yours truly, have been on holiday.

Whilst ‘County Deer Stalking’ welcomes some of the proposals that are intended to support the market for wild venison and encourage landowners to adopt deer management strategies, we are extremely concerned by other elements which in our view are muddled, ill-informed and if implemented, will both negatively impact on the welfare of deer themselves and be counterproductive to Defra’s objectives.

BASC and the British Deer Society have also expressed serious concern about proposals that include night shooting, a removal of the closed season for males and a mandatory minimum standard for all those that wish to shoot deer.

Our primary concerns about Defra’s proposals are as follow and relate to the questions outlined in the consultation survey:

  1. Q7. The proposed lifting of the closed season for males. We believe the current open season is sufficient. Studies show that the shooting of males has little or no impact on the overall deer population. Added to which, this proposal may result in poorer selection of males during their antler growing phase when antlers cannot be used as an indication of maturity or quality. We further believe that if implemented, the policy will compound the growing imbalance between the sexes in many species. For some species the impact will be severe and will also increase the likelihood of mistakenly shooting females with dependent young.
  2. Q8. New legislation permitting the shooting of deer at night. We believe a lifting of the requirement to conduct the shooing of deer at night only under license, will create a significant risk to the public, increase incidents of poaching and impact substantially on the ability of deer managers to make clear and careful decisions around the selection of suitable animals. Deer are not vermin; this proposal would treat them as such and will directly impact on the quality of all UK deer species.
  3. Q14. The implementation of a minimum standard for all deer stalkers. We believe that this will be counterproductive to Defra’s objective to reduce deer numbers. ‘County Deer Stalking’ is a leading provider of deer stalker training and is an approved LANTRA and UKRS training provider. We cannot however, in good conscience recommend that all those that wish to shoot deer have a specified level of training. We recognise that thousands of deer are culled each year by highly experienced deer managers who have no formal training. Prohibiting these individuals from doing so, will result in fewer deer being shot and act as a further barrier to entry for future deer managers, at a time when the issuing of firearms has already reduced. In short, the proposals seek to find a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and are unnecessarily bureaucratic and counterproductive. 


We have written to Defra with our concerns and invited them to engage with us regarding the proposals. You may have other observations that you would like to raise.

One way or another, in the remaining window (you have just until Friday 02nd September) we encourage you to first read the consultation, which you can access here:

And then respond via Defra’s Online survey, something that you access here: consultation-on-proposals-for-the-deer-management

Peter Jones 150The survey takes just 20mins. Make sure you have had your say in the future of deer management in England! 

Peter Jones (editor) 




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