New deer larder at Tummel underlines FLS commitment to deer management
Forestry and Land Scotland has underlined its commitment to deer management in Perthshire with a £250k investment in a new deer larder.
The new facility, which will handle around 900 carcasses every year (but which can deal with 1500), provides modern and efficient premises where venison progresses into the human food chain from the point at which the deer was culled.
Deer numbers across Scotland are now estimated to be around 1million and an assessment by the Independent Deer Working Group recently highlighted the need for proactive deer management.
FLS, as one of many organisations tasked with keeping deer numbers to a sustainable level, culls in the region of 40,000 animals every year, providing almost 1000 tonnes of wild Scottish venison, which when processed into high quality venison products by Highland Game Ltd, is distributed to national, UK and international markets.
Ian Fergusson, FLS’ Head of Wildlife Management, said;
“Deer numbers are increasing across Scotland and in many locations this places an inordinate and unsustainable pressure on the habitats that they browse and graze.
“This imbalance presents a real challenge to Scotland’s contribution to mitigating the Climate Emergency because it presents a real threat to the fundamental activities of woodland creation and the sustainable woodland management of commercial timber crops.
“Twenty years ago, a larder that could handle around 300 carcasses a year was adequate – but today we need something with three times the capacity to ensure culling continues at the appropriate level in order to keep deer numbers at a sustainable level.
“That illustrates the nature of the deer population issue now – and we anticipate that the issue of sustainability is going to take some time to achieve.
“It’s also something that will require close partnership and collaborative working with all land managers.”
A scientific and evidence based approach to monitoring and managing deer numbers allows FLS to manage its culling activities across all of the land that it manages yet also focus on forest areas that are most vulnerable to browsing damage from too many deer.
Dick Playfair, Secretary, the Scottish Venison Association, commented:
“The deer cull protects our trees and our natural environment and is an important aspect in helping to address the climate change crisis. But it also provides a source of excellent, healthy protein – venison is one of the healthiest red meats available.
“Investment in making sure that that supply is safe and can meet the capability for future demand is essential and it is good to see Scotland’s largest venison producer rising to that challenge.”
Evidence of continued damage to restock sites and natural regeneration indicates that enhanced cull levels will be required in years to come. It is estimated that the new larder will be expected to deal with future cull levels of around 14-1500 carcasses annually - predominantly red deer with some roe deer and the occasional Sika or fallow deer.
The new larder is part of a programme of rationalisation of all FLS’ venison handling facilities.
As the largest producer of venison in the UK, Scotland contributes around 3,500 tonnes of wild venison and 70 tonnes of farmed venison each year. Around two thirds of this enters the £100 million UK Game market, with the remaining third being exported to countries across mainland Europe and, increasingly, the USA.
Notes to editors
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.