Published in support of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for black grouse


Increased winter survival of red and Sika deer and lower culling rates have resulted in densities of more than 20 deer/km2 in some core black grouse areas. Grazing by an estimated 600,000 deer in Scotland, combined with grazing by sheep, has led to a decline in the quality and quantity of many moorland plants on which black grouse depend for food and which provide cover for nesting, brood-rearing and roosting. Additionally, browsing prevents the regeneration of native woodlands that could provide valuable future habitat for black grouse and necessitates the use of deer fences, which brings its own serious problems.

Thus, in some parts of Scotland, enhanced levels of deer culling is necessary. This is organised through Deer Management Groups, assisted by the Deer Commission for Scotland, which set culling targets according to the integrated objectives of the land holding and wider deer population. The DCS focuses effort on Priority Sites, identified because of the damage that is being caused to agriculture, woodland, natural heritage or public safety. For more advice, contact your local Deer Management Group or the DCS.

The Rural Development Contracts Scheme is designed to encourage the creation and management of woods and forests to provide economic, environmental and social benefits now and in the future. Grants are available to control deer within a Deer Management Plan agreed with the DCS. For more information, contact your nearest Black Grouse Recovery Project, or your local FC Scotland conservancy.

Red deer on rough grass and heather. Chris Gomersall (RSPB Images 3957100-00124-002)