An independent review panel appointed by the National Trust to examine its deer management policy on the estate near Braemar Scotland’s has concluded that the controversial cull of the deer population on the Mar Lodge estate on Royal Deeside should stop – the deer population has fallen by 2,000 over the last 15 years.
The cull originally began as part of a deer management policy to promote the regeneration of the ancient Caledonian pine forest at Mar Lodge but many feel the cull went too far, killing too many deer.
Former head gamekeeper at the estate, Stewart Cumming, 64, took early retirement protesting at the “relentless, year-round slaughter of deer” on the estate.
In 1995, the deer population on the estate was approximately 3,350 but it is now estimated to be around the minimum threshold of 1,650.
The estate has a declared aim of having between 80 and 100 stags a year killed for sport in addition to the cull – the panel’s report says that if the estate is to maintain a sporting cull of 80-100 stags the current level of culling is unsustainable and that most red deer should be shot as sporting stags in future with no further reduction in estate deer stock levels.
The report’s recommendations includes alterations to fencing, woodland management, heather management in both the regeneration and moorland zone, and the management structure.
National Trust chairman Sir Kenneth Calman said: “The recommendations will now be carefully considered to determine how we take them forward, in the best interests of this extraordinary place.”