Skip to main content

Forestry and Land Scotland is working with CivTech to develop innovative approaches to improve the effectiveness of wildlife management and the health and safety of Wildlife Rangers.  

The fourth collaboration – part of the CivTech Round 9  – involves two projects, each worth up to £650,000, part funded by CivTech as part of their Innovate for Nature initiative.

As well as looking to develop new technological approaches to wildlife tracking, FLS is also seeking ideas for better ways of transporting deer carcasses out of the rugged Scottish landscape.  

Project Manager for FLS, Veronica Lyne-Pirkis, said;    

“Wildlife Rangers are indispensable for sustainably managing wild deer on Scotland's National Forests and Land. Managing deer is essential to protect new woodland and vulnerable habitats like ancient woodlands or Atlantic rainforest, and to help sustain habitats for a wide range of other species. It can also help improve public safety in some places be reducing the likelihood of road traffic collisions.

"However, a lot of a ranger's time is taken up trying to track and identify deer, or occasionally other animals such as feral pigs, through rugged and variable terrain. 

“This is made all the more difficult because deer can become habituated to searching strategies and become more elusive.  This makes finding them considerably more time consuming and is also physically and mentally challenging for a ranger.  

“Our first challenge is therefore to develop a cost-effective way of letting our Wildlife Rangers identify the exact location of every animal larger than 5kg in a specified area. This will improve efficiency and reduce the demands made on the resilience of our rangers.” 

A working system would ideally be able to give a ranger an idea of the location of the deer and other animal population in the immediate area while they are on site. However, a representation of deer numbers on the site within the previous 24 hours would still be useful.  

However, after an animal has been humanely culled and gralloched, a Wildlife Ranger must transport the carcass in a safe, hygienic and efficient way while fully complying with food standards legislation and best practise, by physical manual handling or with an All-Terrain Vehicle to the nearest track or road.   

In some locations this distance is too great and/or the terrain is too difficult to do this safely and efficiently. This restricts ranger efficiency working in some locations or during some weather conditions. Even when it can be done safely and hygienically, a Wildlife Ranger could still be faced with dragging a deer, which might weigh up to 120kg, off the side of a mountain, through standing and felled forests and over ditches, watercourses, peat bogs and rocky slopes.  

Veronica added;  

“Once our Wildlife Rangers have found and culled deer, they need to get them out of the forest and into a larder for processing as soon as possible.  

“This can also be a challenging job, especially in a rugged landscape and when time is of the essence if the carcass is to produce quality venison for the human food chain.  

“Taking a shot might mean committing that ranger to five or more hours of hard physical labour, time that they could instead be committing their considerable skills to other wildlife priorities in an area.  

“So, our second challenge is to develop a more efficient way of transporting carcasses safely, quickly and easily from forest to larder, in a fully food standards compliant way that also improves the health and safety of our wildlife staff.”  

Finding solutions to both issues will make better use of Wildife Rangers’ time, allow more people to consider taking on the work and will also help to keep deer numbers in challenging locations at the required level. It will also help to reduce the risk of carcasses spoiling or being contaminated during transportation.   

Full details of the Challenges can be found on the CivTech Scotland website. 


Notes to editors

  1. 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.

  2. |

  3. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 07785 527590 or