As trustees of the Arran Community Land Initiative we know the issue of deer management engenders strong feelings in some local community members. This was clearly reflected in the discussions at our recent AGM. Our 75+ acres of land border Forestry Scotland land and, in common with adjoining areas, deer are increasingly visible on it. Managing them is complex, but must be done – however, there is no easy solution that will satisfy all those affected by what takes place on the site.
The trustees held in-depth discussions in order to come to a decision about deer-management and consider that we exercised due diligence in doing this. We considered the feasibility of fencing the entire area but the costs were outwith our budget. We looked again at our primary aims and purpose; these include outdoor based education and recreation and the enhancement of biodiversity and carbon capture. Our land must be as safe as possible for the adults and children who regularly take part in activities on it. If the land is to be used to grow produce, native woodland and biodiverse plants, these need to be protected from devastation by wild animals.
We consulted The Scottish Government’s Code of Practice on Deer Management (2012) which applies to any land, public or private, where wild deer can be found. This mentions, amongst other things, the significant risk to public health by direct exposure to deer carrying Lyme’s Disease bearing ticks. The National Code also encourages co-operation with other landowners and this is taking place; Forestry Scotland is the primary landowner in the South of the Island as well as a member of Arran’s Deer Management Group. We have therefore asked that our acreage be included in their deer management measures which mean that these will be continue to be undertaken in a professional way.
We understand that some people hold strong views on this subject but we believe we have taken the only responsible decision to both comply with the Code of Practice and for our continued custodianship of the land.