Deer Management Consultation and Proposed Changes to the Close Season

The Scottish Government are consulting on legislative proposals regarding deer management, including changes to the female close season.


The Scottish Government published the consultation paper “Managing deer for climate and nature” in January 2024. It sets out proposals to modernise the legislation which governs deer management in Scotland and to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the context of biodiversity and the climate crisis. These proposals reflect a number of recommendations made by the Deer Working Group (which was established in 2017 to review the management of wild deer in Scotland) in their 2020 report “The Management of Wild Deer in Scotland”.

The Scottish Government’s proposals are categorised under six separate themes, namely: Enhancing the Natural Environment; Compulsory Powers and Compliance; Deer Welfare; Changes to the Close Seasons; Venison; and Kept and Farmed Deer.

Proposed changes to the female close season

In Scotland, deer can be taken or killed in the “open season” subject to landowner consent and statutory conditions. At all other times of the year (the “close season”), deer can only be taken or killed under authorisation from NatureScot. The dates of the close season depend on the sex and species of the deer.

As of 21 October 2023, there is no male close season. The female close season is currently 16 February to 20 October (for red, fallow and sika deer) and 1 April to 20 October (for roe deer). It is proposed to change the female close season to 31 March to 30 September for red, fallow, sika and roe deer.


The consultation is available here and closes on 29 March 2024. Responses will then be analysed and considered along with other available information and evidence as part of the Scottish Government’s decision-making process. Responses will be published where permission has been given and a report will be published.