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Deer numbers show decrease in the Park

30th June 2010

After one of the toughest winters on record, a report giving up to date information on the number of red deer counted in a large section of the Cairngorms National Park is now available online.  Numbers of deer have risen in some areas and fallen in others, but overall the figures, compared with a previous count carried out five years ago, suggest a reduction in the number of red deer.

The Deer Count, carried out by the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS), took place over five days in January this year and covered the part of the Cairngorms National Park contained within the East and West Grampian Deer Management Group areas. Helicopters mounted with high-resolution digital cameras combined with DCS staff and estate employees on the ground were used to get as clear an indication of numbers as possible.

Michael Hone of the Cairngorms Deer Advisory Group and the Cairngorms Speyside Deer Management Group said: “The results of the deer count allow us to assess the deer population and to set cull targets for the coming year. Cull targets are based on this information coupled with the land managers’ objectives and the capacity of the land to provide both food and shelter for deer and species. The count has been very useful but deer managers must also bear in mind that mortality levels were higher this year after the very harsh winter.”

Iain Hope of the Deer Commission for Scotland said: “Overall, the 2010 count shows that deer numbers have reduced since the previous count in 2005 but there are local differences with numbers higher in some places and lower in others. The count, although extremely useful shows an overview – it’s a snapshot in time. Deer move around a great deal, but the information does help land owners to manage the deer sustainably.”

Will Boyd-Wallis of the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s Strategic Land Use group commented: “Deer and venison are of great value to the economy of the Park so it’s important that the resource is managed well. The results of the count show a determined effort by people on the ground to manage the deer sustainably. Having the best information available on figures will help significantly in continuing to ensure that sensitive habitats are protected and the deer remain healthy in the National Park.”