Hill­walk­ers urged to fac­tor in deer stalk­ing

The Oban Times - - Outdoors -

AS SCOT­LAND’S deer stalk­ing sea­son gets into full swing, a web-based ser­vice to avoid con­flict be­tween walk­ers and stalk­ers has been re­launched.

Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage’s Head­ing for the Scot­tish Hills web­site al­lows walk­ers to check ahead for de­tails of pos­si­ble deer stalk­ing tak­ing place on es­tates where they plan to go hik­ing.

As in pre­vi­ous years, it is hoped this will re­duce the chance of dis­turb­ing stag stalk­ing dur­ing the peak sea­son from late sum­mer to Oc­to­ber 20.

This year Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage ( SNH) has worked with part­ners, in­clud­ing Moun­taineer­ing Scot­land and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Deer Man­age­ment Groups, to cre­ate a more user-friendly ser­vice, which has ex­panded again this year, par­tic­u­larly in the north-west High­lands, and is ac­ces­si­ble from mo­biles and tablets.

The web­site (www.out­doorac­cess- scot­land.com/hftsh) in­cludes gen­eral in­for­ma­tion about stalk­ing on all par­tic­i­pat­ing es­tates and con­tact de­tails for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

There is also in­for­ma­tion about re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour for both land man­agers and walk­ers.

The site pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on spe­cific Mun­ros, Cor­betts and other pop­u­lar hills. It also in­cludes routes that are ‘al­ways okay’ and gen­eral in­for­ma­tion such as when the es­tate will start stag stalk­ing and the days of the week when stalk­ing doesn’t take place.

Fiona Cun­ing­hame, SNH recre­ation and ac­cess of­fi­cer, said: ‘The web ser­vice is a quick way to check that you won’t dis­turb deer stalk­ing when head­ing to par­tic­i­pat­ing hills be­tween July and Oc­to­ber.

‘We hope that you find the ser­vice easy to use and would wel­come feed­back by email to HFTSH@snh.gov.uk. We ex­pect the ser­vice to con­tinue to grow, so if the hills you want to climb aren’t in­cluded on the site, it’s worth tak­ing an­other look be­fore you head out.’

James Or­p­wood, Moun­taineer­ing Scot­land’s ac­cess of­fi­cer, said: ‘Moun­taineer­ing Scot­land has been closely in­volved with the Head­ing for the Scot­tish Hills web­site and is de­lighted to see it has ex­panded again this year. We en­cour­age all hill-go­ers to check the web­site dur­ing the stalk­ing sea­son and con­tact the rel­e­vant es­tate if nec­es­sary.’

The web­site helps walk­ers fol­low the ad­vice in the Scot­tish Out­door Ac­cess Code to try to find out where stag stalk­ing is tak­ing place and who to con­tact if more in­for­ma­tion is re­quired.

The code also en­cour­ages walk­ers to take ac­count of rea­son­able ad­vice on al­ter­na­tive routes and to avoid cross­ing land where stalk­ing is tak­ing place.

Richard Cooke, chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Deer Man­age­ment Groups, said: ‘Our as­so­ci­a­tion has been in­volved with Head­ing for the Scot­tish Hills for more than 20 years, both in its ini­tial book form and now in the on­line ver­sion.

‘We would like to see this re­source as the go to source of in­for­ma­tion for peo­ple tak­ing recre­ational ac­cess in the High­lands of Scot­land and are pleased that an in­creas­ing num­ber of deer man­age­ment groups are sign­ing up.’

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