A cull of deer on the estate of an ‘absentee’ landlord in the Highlands has been completed.  

More than 150 red deer were shot on the Loch Choire Estate, East Sutherland, between January and February after Scottish Government body NatureScot used its intervention powers to order the cull.  

The action was taken after the owner failed to respond to a formal request of the Deer Act to control deer numbers.  

The Estate was purchased in 2015 by an owner believed to be based in the Shropshire area, though they have not been named by NatureScot. 

Repeated attempts were made to get the landowner to manage herds during the past several years, or find alternative solutions.  

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Stalkers were allowed to enter the state and shoot red deer they encountered. In total 160 animals were culled and processed for venison. 

This action was taken because NatureScot found that red deer on the estate were having a significant impact on peatlands, woodlands and other habitats in the area, a large proportion of which is covered by protected area designations. 

This includes four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).  


Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s Head of Wildlife Management, said: “Our highly skilled stalkers faced challenging winter conditions to successfully carry out this cull in what is a very remote area.  

“In undertaking this work, as ever they have displayed the highest standards of professionalism and best practice, putting deer welfare at the heart of the operation. 

“While we always favour a voluntary and collaborative approach to deer management, this action demonstrates that NatureScot will make use of the full range of powers available to us when necessary, to secure vital benefits for nature and climate.“ 

READ MORE: 'New laws needed force landlords to cut herds'

NatureScot said that the estate has now employed a stalker to better manage its deer herds. The agency will continue to monitor the situation, however.  

Sir Michael Wigan, Chairman of the local East Sutherland Deer Management Group, said: “The Deer Management Group continues to be supportive of NatureScot’s approach and the way in which they have delivered this approach.  

“We will continue to work with NatureScot to deliver effective and sustainable deer management.”