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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Question ref. S6W-06069
Asked by: Colin Smyth, South Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 1 February 2022


To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on data published by NatureScot reportedly stating that the deer population in Scotland now exceeds one million and is increasing.

Current status: Answered by Mairi McAllan on 2 March 2022


The review of deer management by the independent Deer Working Group (DWG) found that deer populations in Scotland have grown significantly since 1990, when the population estimate was approximately 512,000 wild deer. The DWG estimated the current deer population to be in excess of one million animals through analysis of data published by NatureScot in recent years. We have no reason to doubt the credibility of this estimate.

The DWG report is also clear that high densities of deer cause not only serious environmental and agricultural damage, but may also have a detrimental effect on wild deer welfare. That is why we asked the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission to consider recommendations made by the report, and we considered their views alongside all other evidence when forming our response, published last year.

The Commission's consideration of the DWG recommendations can be found here: Scottish Animal Welfare Commission: response to deer working group report - (

The Scottish Government's response to the DWG report can be found here: Deer Working Group recommendations: Scottish Government response - (