Shoot and kill ‘Asbo Bambis’ on sight, landowners urged
Landowners have been ordered to shoot on sight two non-native deer spotted in Scotland amid fears that they herald an “alien invasion” which could destroy the countryside.
The pair, seen in south-west Scotland, are believed to be Chinese Muntjacs, dubbed Asbo Bambis due to their reputation for decimating vegetation south of the Border.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) yesterday ordered landowners and deer managers in Dumfries and Galloway to kill the creatures on sight after its wildlife operations team investigated the reported sighting on a private conifer plantation near Sanquhar last month.
Environmentalists have long feared that Muntjacs will spread into Scotland from England and Wales, where the animals have left a trail of destruction over the past 40 years since they were brought from China to the UK by private collectors in the 1800s.
The SNH has estimated that the cost of having to manage an established Munjtac population in Scotland would be up to £2 million a year.
Jamie Hammond, SNH’s wildlife management officer for south Scotland, said: “We have to take all reports of Muntjac seriously.
“Most of the time they turn out to be false alarms, but in this instance the report was from a reliable source. We have contacted all the neighbouring land owners and urged deer managers in the local area to remain vigilant and shoot any Muntjac deer on sight if they get the opportunity.”
Stan Whitaker, SNH’s advisor on non-native species, described Muntjacs as one of the “most destructive animal pests in Britain”, damaging young trees, coppiced woodland, cereal crops, orchards, native oak woodlands and bluebells.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust supported yesterday’s decision by SNH, which chief executive Simon Milne described as the “harsh reality of effective wildlife conservation.”
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said it was anxious about the Muntjac sighting, by a deer manager.
However, SGA chairman Alex Hogg, was critical of the SNH response.
He said: “People can take a shoot-on-sight policy, but it may not actually stop the deer from coming.
“For example, we have had Japanese Sika deer in Scotland for 100 years. As far as the SGA is concerned, it is about balance. If there are too many, they will cause damage.
“If managed properly, this doesn’t need to be the case.”
He added: “We find it confusing that a shoot-on-sight policy is being applied for this non-native species when there are examples of other non natives that are being allowed to breed and populate in Scotland.
“For example, no such decisive action was taken regarding beavers and we suspect this is because the authorities felt the public would be up in arms.
“There seems to be selective, mixed messages being sent.”
Muntjacs are the world’s oldest deer species and stand at 20 inches tall.
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