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Assynt Crofters' Trust pulls out of deer group as bitter row over John Muir Trust deer cull rumbles on

By Caroline McMorran

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Assynt Crofters' Trust has announced that it is pulling out its local deer management group in protest at an out-of-season deer cull undertaken by its neighbouring landowner, the John Muir Trust.

The trust, which staged a historic community buy-out in 1992 of the 21,000 North Assynt Estate, is to leave the Assynt Peninsula Sub-Group (APSG), part of the Assynt Deer Management Group.

It said it was doing so because it no longer felt it had “any voice”.

The John Muir Trust was granted an out-of-season licence to cull deer on it Quinag Estate.
The John Muir Trust was granted an out-of-season licence to cull deer on it Quinag Estate.

The move is the latest twist in a bitter row over an out-of-season deer cull undertaken by wildland conservation charity John Muir Trust (JMT) which owns Quinag Estate,

JMT has already left the Assynt Peninsula Sub-Group over the issue.

Deer management groups are voluntary and are run by representatives of the landholders in the group’s area. It represents a forum for discussion about deer management.


Anger as John Muir Trust granted out-of-season licence to kill deer on its north-west Sutherland estate

Assynt Crofters' Trust lodges complaints with charity regulator and environmental body over Quinag out-of-season deer cull

Scottish Gamekeepers Association backs call to suspend John Muir Trust's out-of-season licence to cull deer at Assynt

Assynt Crofters' Trust takes legal advice over hostile 'takeover' of John Muir Trust's Quinag Estate as deer cull row continues

Assynt Crofters' Trust appeals to MSP for help in deer cull row

NatureScot - the advisory body for wildlife and landscape management- earlier this year granted JMT an out-of-season licence to cull deer on its ground until the end of March and at night.

In Scotland the stag shooting season runs from July 1 to October 20 and the hind shooting season from October 21 to February 15.

The charity had asked for the licence because it said reducing deer density was essential for woodland restoration at Quinag.

However Assynt Crofters Trust and other neighbouring landowners were bitterly opposed to the out-of-season cull, stating it was unnecessary and other measures, including fencing, could be introduced to prevent deer from damaging woodland.

The landowners also said the deer cull would affect their sporting enterprises with deer not confirmed to one area.

NatureScot came under fire for granting the licence with demands that it be withdrawn, but this did not happen.

Assynt Crofters’ sport and game committee have now sent a letter to Tom Turnbull, chairman of Assynt Deer Management Group, to inform him of their decision to quit the APSG.

The letter states: “Assynt Crofters' Trust have decided to pull out of the APSG with immediate effect.

“NatureScot’s behaviour in granting out-of season licences without paying heed to the protests of all members, the granting of licences without any form of oversight or monitoring, allowing the cull without anything but vague wish-list outcomes, and their continued unwillingness to listen to our valid concerns means the group effectively has no voice when it come to managing their own land.

“In addition, now that the John Muir Trust has left the group, total collaboration has been lost, and there cannot be a collaborative effort to manage the deer in our area.

“We will continue to manage our land and the deer to achieve the outcomes already agreed upon, and are willing to collaborate with any landowner in Assynt to this end.”

NatureScot has been asked to respond.


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