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Forestry Commission’s Deer Best Practice Event

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Article by:
Prf. M W Charlton, Chairman Yorkshire Branch, Chair EWAC and Trustee Director BDS, British Deer Society

Managing Deer Across the English Landscape
8th October 2022 Scotch Corner Holiday Inn

We never want to hyperbolise, but this was an unmissable event.

After nearly three years of C19 restrictions followed by a fuel and cost of living crisis the Best Practice Event was back and running at the Holiday Inn Scotch Corner. Good choice of venue, good facilities and ample easy parking straight off the Motorway. A welcome cup of coffee and biscuit and straight down to business. The atmosphere was professional and positive throughout – interesting speakers with very timely updates (and the occasional wakeup call).

There is likely to be significant challenge in the world of deer and deer professionals in the coming years and the speakers were able to offer insight and some solutions to managing effectively in the future.

The initial speaker from Leighton Moss RSPB talked of the challenges of deer management on an RSPB reserve and this was complemented by the speaker from Hampshire and Isle of White Wildlife Trust talking about the challenges a wildlife Trust has in managing their reserves where there are deer. These are going to be key challenges to work through with the public with the increasing number of deer.

We then were given an insight into the use of drones – the latest technology – in gathering evidence of deer on difficult landscapes. This was mirrored by research work at Ph.D. level from Leeds University in the North West examining how data collection and analysis can aid decision making in the field. This was more basic groundwork – the kind that always must be done.

The CEO of BDS after a very long journey from Fordingbridge BDS HQ was able to make a quick commentary on trends within the world of deer.

Dinner was provided by Highland Game who gave the final talk of the afternoon on the Deer Sector.

The National Deer Strategy was discussed as were techniques for managing deer on the open hill. What surprised me that within a day I was using some of the expertise and analysis offered by the Forestry Commission Deer Officer on WS1 Deer supplement to advise a landowner on his application.

What these events provide is an opportunity for everyone to network between talks and gain perspectives and insight from key people in the industry.

I just about had time to peruse the stalls at the show – Malmo Guns, Monarch Countryside Products and JM Custom Knives – it never seems too much at the time but I will review some of the items I purchased for Deer Journal.

There are likely to be further such events, keep your eye out, as they are good and unmissable – I will be sorely tempted with a different agenda to travel to any other such events and would certainly recommend that you do if you can. Finally, great value for money – a key issue in our world today.

And last but not least well done to Alastair Boston for organising the event.

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