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  • Welcome to

    The British Deer Society

    What do we do? - BDS promotes deer education, research and management best practice to ensure a healthy and sustainable deer population in balance with the environment; a key feature of the biodiversity of the UK landscape.

    What do we do?
  • Welcome to

    The British Deer Society

    Our aim - BDS aims to be the go-to place for objective and unbiased information on the biology of deer and methods of deer management, humane treatment and control.

    Our aim
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    The British Deer Society

    Research - BDS provides funding and support for high quality deer research to inform government(s), academia, trade organisations, members, the media and the public.

    Our research
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    The British Deer Society

    Membership - BDS embraces a varied membership ranging from professional biologists, enthusiastic naturalists, keen photographers, wildlife artists and chefs to deer managers and stalkers. All are welcome.

    Join us
  • Welcome to

    The British Deer Society

    Education - BDS aims to improve general education and understanding of all deer-related issues, through active engagement and access to high quality educational materials.

    Our education
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    The British Deer Society

    Training - We develop and deliver high quality training programmes to promote best practice in deer management.

    Our training
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    The British Deer Society

    How can you help us? - Help BDS continue its education and research programme. Secure the future of wild deer in the UK by becoming a member, making a donation, or purchasing from our shop. Thank you for your support.

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Latest News

BDS Continues Pressure for a Review of the Periods of Permitted Culling under Out of Season Authorisations

BDS Chairman Rory Putman has reemphasised our calls for a review of the periods of permitted culling under General Authorisation for Out of Season Shooting.

Writing directly to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Mairi Gougeon, our chairman with the full support of the BDS board has again highlighted the supporting factual scientific evidence which we believe demands such a review.

  pdf Read the letter (240 KB)

Red hind looking after her calf UK By Giedriius

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Deer permit delay causes anger and damage to habitat and farming

There is considerable concern and growing frustration among thousands of licensed deer hunters and deer management groups due to a delay in the issuing of permits by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Wildlife Licensing Unit.

Approximately 5,500 permits are issued annually by NPWS to allow for the management of deer during the open deer season which runs from September 1st to February 28th.

In the absence of a natural predator, it falls on man to maintain deer numbers at sustainable levels and to reduce any negative effect they may have on farming, forestry, and the wider ecosystem. While unverified, data released by NPWS show that 41,148 deer were culled by 5,515 licensed deer hunters in the 12-month period up to February 28th, 2019, highlighting the important role carried out by licensed deer hunters.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Irish Deer Commission said:

“While we sympathise with the challenges caused by Covid-19 for NPWS in the issuing of permits, we have engaged with NPWS in good faith since June while representing our members regarding the potential permit issues caused by Covid-19, however, we have been left frustrated and dismayed by NPWS inability to engage and adapt.”

Photograph – Co Kerry Red stag credit Peter O’Toole

Photograph – Co Kerry Red stag credit Peter O’Toole

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Forestry and Land Scotland General Authorisation

We continue to be contacted regularly by members and non-members expressing dismay at FLS’s recent decision to cull red deer hinds from the beginning of September, being concerned about welfare consequences for orphaned juveniles - if these are not shot with the mother.

We must reiterate that, under the provisions of their General Authorisation, FLS are acting completely legally. BDS, however, has in the past, and currently is, exploring every opportunity to seek a review of the earliest cull date to be permitted under such authorisations. 

We argue that while perhaps the majority of young are nutritionally independent of the dam after 12 weeks, most remain socially dependent on the mother for a considerably longer period, particularly among herding species such as red deer, and thus may suffer significantly from loss of the dam. 

There is now considerable published research on both nutritional and social independence of juveniles and we are, as ever, urging the responsible authorities to review the latest research and reconsider the September start to such Authorisations.

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Deer Control in Scotland

The Regulation of deer control when crops are affected in Scotland since 2012.

BDS is of the opinion that there may be a need for a greater understanding of the issues of shooting at female deer in September and that we are concerned about the news that Forest & Land Scotland have advised their staff and contractors that, if acting according to Best Practice and their own judgement, they may make full use of the regulations introduced in 2012  which allow them to shoot female deer and their dependents under the General Authorisations enacted in the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, BDS appreciates that this concern is limited to the very few instances when events, unfortunately, differ from plans and that there are risks if adult females are shot in September.

We hope that those contemplating taking a shot consider carefully the Best Practice covering this situation, taking into consideration the apparent absence of obvious dependents, the visibility of the entire deer group, the correct pairing of dam and calf, and the wisdom of shooting at female deer in September.

We acknowledge that the regulations permit the shooting of female deer and their dependents from 1 September but hope that there will only be a minority interested in this practice; should they be found not adhering to Best Practice, or even potentially abusing welfare aspects, they should be reported for such activity.

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Forthcoming Events

02 October - 04 October
DSC1 Laverstoke, Hampshire
31 October - 01 November
DSC1 Cirencester, Gloucestershire
31 October - 02 November
DSC1 Carlisle, Cumbria
14 November - 16 November
DSC1 Falkirk, Stirlingshire
22 November - 24 November
DSC1 Royston, Hertfordshire

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