Thursday, January 15, 2009

SCOTLAND NEWS: Increasing Numbers of Roe Deer Called "A Potential Time Bomb"

ROE deer in Scotland face widespread culls amid concerns that an explosion in numbers around towns and cities is a major threat to motorists, claiming lives and causing millions of pounds of damage.

Extensive planting of new forests in the Scottish lowlands in recent years has provided perfect habitat for the native animal.

Now experts estimate roe deer numbers in Scotland have risen to about 350,000, equivalent to the herds of the better-known red deer roaming the Highlands.

The Deer Commission believes the annual number of road accidents involving deer is around 10,000 with two-thirds caused by the smaller roe. There have been at least two fatalities in the North-east – including Dana-Leigh Trigger, a dental nurse from Banchory in Aberdeenshire – in the last two years.

Across the UK insurance companies estimate they pay out more than £20m for deer-related damage every year.

A major concern now is the growth of roe deer herds around major roads in the central belt. A trial cull of animals has already taken place in Mugdock Country Park, just north of Glasgow, to deal with a roe deer hotspot on the busy A81.

The cull may be extended to other identified hotspots around the M8 motorway, the M80 corridor, the M77 south of Glasgow and the A1 in East Lothian. Other measures under consideration include warning signs for motorists, fences and ensuring trees are not planted close to roads.

Jamie Hammond, the Commission's deer officer for south Scotland, said: "The increasing number of road accidents is becoming a serious safety issue. There have been two fatalities in recent years and many more injuries.

"In the central belt roe are the deer species most involved in accidents and really it is down to luck that there hasn't been a fatality. It's a potential time bomb because there are a huge numbers of deer around roundabouts and hard shoulders."

Roe deer, Britain's second-largest wild mammal after their red cousins, were largely hunted to extinction in the central belt with pockets remaining in the wilder sections of the Borders and further north in the Highlands. But recent Government moves to encourage forestry planting have provided the herds with perfect cover to spread.

One plan, well under way, is to provide an unbroken new forest between Edinburgh and Glasgow. A number of small community woodlands have also been planted around towns and cities in the area.

Hammond said: "We are planting a lot of new woodland which provides them with both food and shelter. Roe deer are very adaptable and move quite quickly into new areas. They are prolific breeders and unless their numbers are managed they can escalate rapidly.

"I doubt that there is 10 square kilometres of the Scottish mainland now that you cannot find roe deer."

The risk of a collision with deer reaches a peak during May when young roe deer are dispersing from the area where they were born. Dr Jochen Langbein, of the Deer Initiative, which is researching deer hotspots, said: "The annual toll of thousands of collisions between vehicles and deer in Scotland alone results not only in numerous human injury accidents and several million pounds in car repair costs, but also presents a very major animal welfare issue.

"Around a third of all deer hit by vehicles survive the initial impact but suffer for prolonged periods at the roadside until a qualified person can attend to dispatch or treat them."

Hugh Claydon, the sustainable forests manager for the Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "Their range is increasing all the time and there has been an increase in road traffic accidents as a result.

"Warning signs at hotspots would be useful as we need to raise awareness that there are more roe deer about. If nothing else, it will get them to slow down, perhaps saving their car from damage and the life of the animal.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that an increase in roe deer is welcome but their numbers do need to be managed."

The trial cull was carried out after a spate of accidents on the A81 from Strathblane to Milngavie. The Deer Commission found roe deer numbers were 10 times those expected. Around 30 animals were shot in the 2007-8 winter and up to 30 more will follow this season.

Hammond said: "Mugdock has shown us that with the right people involved and for the right reasons deer can be managed in this way. This is an area that attracts thousands of visitors every year so culls can be carried out successfully."

Tragic victim of freak crash

Dana-Leigh Trigger was a good driver who had passed her test first time. But the 22-year-old dental hygienist died six months ago when she collided with a roe deer near her home in North-east Scotland and her car swerved into a tree.

The deer jumped out of woodland at the side of the Banchory-Campfield road, which had been newly resurfaced with loose chippings and had a 20mph speed limit. Dana could not avoid a collision even though it was a light summer's evening and her Ford Fiesta left the road and landed on its roof.

It was her niece who found the deer, which had crawled off the road back into the woodland. Dana's father David, a driving instructor, said: "Roe deer are a real menace. We knew there had to be a reason why Dana swerved off the road. Probably 99 times out of a 100 she would have walked away from such a collision but this time she didn't. I'm afraid it was just one of those freak things."

Mr Trigger said he had twice collided with roe deer himself while out driving. "What I did, and what I tell my pupils to do, is keep the car straight. It's better to damage the car rather than people.

"Given the increase in numbers I would be fully supportive of any measures to alert drivers to the danger. Warning signs would be a very good idea so that at least drivers are encouraged to slow down."

Mr Trigger said it was still hard to believe that his youngest daughter had been killed in the accident. "She was the type of girl who touched people's lives. You couldn't find a photo of Dana without a smile on her face."

Source: The Scotsman


Anonymous said...

To me a lot of the problem is the way we deal with over population.Education of drivers is the first step we must then in my opinion make the roads safe. The roads were eighty percent of the accidents happen are national speed limit roads (60) UNlit and badly maintained. If just some of the cost of culling by the Deer Commission was spent on education and roads this problem would not be here with regards the central area having problems you will note that the accidents were fatalities were cause were up north and with the much larger red deer.
Be careful we are not have the wool pulled over our eyes so that the DCS can continue its own existence

Anonymous said...

Effective and efficient culling is the only real way of ensuring RTC and accident related fatalities are reduced.
Tinkering with the road lay outs and paying lip service to driver education is simply avoiding the issue.
10K deer collision accident means 10K dead deer many of which will have suffered horrendous injuries that are left to die at the side of the road. Would it not be a far better and more fitting end if they died from a hunters bullet as the culmination of a successful stalk.
The young dental nurse died in a RTC with a ROE deer not a RED deer as claimed by the previous respondent.
It many be a Longshot but I have a feeling that he may well have a vested interest in poo pooing the DCS objectives, or merely wishes to enter into a quarrel, hence his incorrect claim that fatal RTC only happen "up north" involving red deer.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as there is only two of you posting comments, and you obviously know each other, I thought I would add a bit.

It is plainly obvious to me that both the DCS & the DI in England have a secret agreement, that is to reduce deer numbers to such an extent that recreational stalkers will not be required to cull deer. Once that is in place they will have total control over all the stalking in the UK (and will levy charges to do it) the numpties that support the DCS/DI are only doing it for one reason and that is to secure thier own stalking. In one article I read there were hints at Scottish Stalkers for Scottish Deer, surely that type of predudice is not allowed today. In my humble opinion the DCS and its ilk are an unscrupulous bunch of individuals paid by taxpayers to rob ordinary folk of thier recreation. Look at your ethics so far, Glenfeshie for one, and you crow on about welfare of deer, ha.

Incidentally, the Roe deer is NOT the second largest mammal in the UK, the Fallow deer is, and you are the professionals, what a joke.

Anonymous said...

"experts estimate roe deer numbers in Scotland have risen to about 350,000"

In the very same column the same "experts" claim "The trial cull was carried out after a spate of accidents on the A81 from Strathblane to Milngavie. The Deer Commission found roe deer numbers were 10 times those expected"

What a joke, you cant even get it right in your self praising scremongering article, the word Quango comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

The Deer Commission for Scotland as an organisation is a complete joke, a group of clowns with little/no knowledge of the animals they are tasked with controlling. A classic case of "Don't do as I do, do as I say".

An office-bound quango with no practical value whatsoever. Give their funding to those who do know what they are doing.

SNH have long been on record as wanting a Scotland free of deer, clearly they now have control of the DCS and can now get closer to achieving their aims.

Anon said...

I was involved in a serious RTA on the M8 near Glasgow Airport due to a deer on the road so you can't say it only happens 'up north'.
Driver education has nothing to do with it, a deer shouldn't be on a main motorway and if culling is going to reduce accidents like mine then i for one am all for it!