Police probe ‘helicopter deer cull’

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The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has condemned the use of helicopters to cull deer following claims the illegal practice is being operated in Scotland.

Reports emerged that a hill-walker witnessed helicopters being used to round up deer to be shot at a Highland estate in Lochaber, a claim denied by estate officials.

The walker claimed shooting went on for about two hours and that 120-130 gunshots were fired after deer were herded towards marksmen waiting to cull them as part of the estate management plan.

Using helicopters to coral or “group” deer for culling is illegal under the Deer Act (Scotland) and raises major animal welfare questions.

Police confirmed they are investigating after the hill-walker brought the sighting to the attention of East Highland Crofting Commissioner, Donnie Ross.

Mr Ross said it was his belief this type of practice was becoming an increasing problem across Scotland.

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said the deployment of helicopters had no place in deer management other than for the counting of deer.

He also said it was no way to treat a species regarded as symbolic by Scots.