Now retired, but having worked for 45 years as a gamekeeper/stalker, and having witnessed the carnage and cruelty inflicted on deer by overnight poaching, I was delighted to see, at long last, a successful prosecution using DNA (your report, 4 February).
However, I find it strange that someone who kills deer during the closed seasons, or during the hours of darkness by using a spotlight or night vision equipment, is considered a wildlife criminal, especially as these very same methods are encouraged by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and are used with great effect by the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and conservation groups, who either advise or manage sporting estates.
Although legislation has been tightened, stags, hinds and calves in ever-increasing numbers are shot using these methods. But by far the greatest concern in deer management are the implications and welfare issues connected to unfenced forestry schemes.
At the point of calving, hinds leave the herd and seek solitude. After calving, the new-born calf is left on its own, the mother returning at regular intervals to suckle it.
Should any hind stray into an unfenced forestry scheme and be shot, the calf is left to die a slow and lingering death.
I see no difference between a poacher’s activity and those who legally protect unfenced forestry schemes under authorisation.
It appears there’s a law for one and a law for others, and unfortunately in each case, it’s the deer that suffers.