Culling 50 per cent of the UK’s deer spells disaster for many rural communities, Scottish gamekeepers have warned.
Deer stalking supports local economies by keeping schools, hotels and shops open, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said.
The organisation, which has 5,300 members, responded to a study by East Anglia University which suggests culling on a massive scale is necessary just to keep the UK’s growing deer population at its current level.
But this would make job losses in the Scottish countryside inevitable, the association said.
“Stalking income keeps the hotels and guest houses, shops and schools open. It keeps jobs in these areas and the benefits trickle down through the community,” according to chairman Alex Hogg.
“Many of these communities are struggling because deer numbers have fallen so low. Culling at the levels suggested could lead to empty glens if sustained. Conservation would work better, and would be better applied, if it also took people into account.
“It would be absolutely and unequivocally wrong to take this science, gleaned from studying one forested area of East Anglia, and apply it to all parts of the UK, particularly Scotland.
“This study misses the point about deer distribution in Scotland entirely and applying it would be disastrous for many rural communities.”