Managing deer for climate and nature: consultation

Closed 29 Mar 2024

Opened 5 Jan 2024


Achieving sustainable deer populations is fundamental to our ability to meet our climate and biodiversity goals. Herbivores, including deer, have an impact on our natural environment through trampling young habitats, overgrazing and preventing new trees from growing but it is important to understand that the impact is not simply through new damage to habitats, but that decades of herbivore impact is preventing nature recovery across some of the most nature depleted areas of Scotland.

Scotland is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, and our country’s biodiversity has been altered by centuries of habitat loss and fragmentation, management changes, development and persecution. It has been that way for so long that simply maintaining the equilibrium is in effect maintaining already damaged land.

The Deer Working Group (DWG), which was established in 2017 to review the existing statutory and non-statutory arrangements for the management of wild deer in Scotland, made ninety-nine recommendations to modernise Scotland’s systems of deer management, approximately half of which are legislative in nature. The non-legislative recommendations, which touch on almost every aspect of deer management, are being taken forward by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Deer Board, as a project under the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Programme.

This consultation seeks your views on some of the DWG's recommendations which require changes to existing legislation. It also includes proposals which were not considered by the DWG but which the Scottish Government believes are now necessary to meet the ambitious targets for tree planting and peatland restoration that the Scottish Government has committed to. 

This consultation is therefore seeking views on a range of matters related to deer management. These matters are set out within the 6 themes listed below:

  • Theme 1: Enhancing the Natural Environment
  • Theme 2: Compliance
  • Theme 3: Wild deer Welfare
  • Theme 4: Changes to close seasons
  • Theme 5: Venison
  • Theme 6: Kept and Farmed Deer

Read the consultation paper. The consultation paper contains full background information for this consultation. You may find it useful to read or refer to while responding.

Useful information about responding to this consultation

As you complete your response, each page will provide the option to 'Save and come back later' at the bottom. This means you can save your progress and return to the consultation at any time before it closes. If you don't use this feature and leave the consultation midway through, your response will be lost.

Once you have submitted your response, you can enter your email address to get a pdf copy of your answers sent to you.

On the 'About You' page at the end of this consultation, organisations will have the opportunity to tell us more about their work and/or how their response was informed.

After the consultation has closed there will be a few months delay before any responses are published. This is because we must check any responses to be published abide by our Terms of Use.

A analysis report will usually be published some months after the consultation has closed. This report will summarise the findings based on all responses submitted. It will be published on the Scottish Government website and you may be notified about it if you choose to share your email address with us. You can also join our consulation mailing list where we regularly list newly published analysis reports (as well as new consultations).


Why your views matter

We would like to hear from those affected by these proposals, including those involved in land and deer management, as well as those with views on wildlife welfare and enforcement.

We want to ensure that decisions on any ensuing reforms to deer management legislation are made with a sound understanding of the issues and implications.

What happens next

After the consultation closes, we will analyse the responses to inform decisions on any ensuing reforms to deer management legislation 


  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Farming and Rural
  • Main hub