Whilst a heated debate continues over the pros and cons of native red deer culls in the Angus glens and in Sutherland, concerns continue about a possible invasion from northern England across the Border of muntjac deer (genus muntiacus) (aka"ASBO Bambi"). Muntjac deer, originally from Asia and imported into England by the Duke of Bedford in the 19th century is a designated invasive non-native species in England and Wales and is responsible for extensive damage being caused to cereal crops, orchards and young forests. They are also responsible for a significant number of road accidents.
Due to their significant impact south of the Border, both to bio-diversity and the economic interests of landowners and managers, MSPs in Scotland passed the Muntjac Keeping (Scotland) Order in 2011 in pursuance of powers under the Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. These Regulations came into force at the beginning of July 2011 and prohibit the keeping of muntjac except under a Licence granted by the Scottish Ministers and with a view to preventing muntjac escaping from captive populations within Scotland. In the event of escape, under these Regulations, they can be dealt with quickly to prevent them becoming established in the wild.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) consider that, if muntjac were to establish in Scotland, they would pose a risk to important habitats such as, amongst others, upland oak woods, wild bluebells and upland mixed ash woods.
Now that muntjac have reached as far north as Carlisle, the situation is being closely monitored by SNH. They have urged landowners and deer managers to"shoot muntjac on sight" if the opportunity arises. As muntjac are a non-native species, they are not subject to statutory seasons set out within the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996. Any sightings should be reported to SNH Wildlife Operations Unit: Telephone 01463 725365 or email: WILDLIFEOPS@snh.gov.uk.