The Scottish Mail on Sunday

SNP quango makes £500k from hunting

‘Hypocrisy’ after Sturgeon condemned the sport

- By Gordon Blackstock

TROPHY hunters have paid more than £500,000 to a state-funded quango for permits to kill deer for sport – sparking accusation­s of Scottish Government ‘hypocrisy’.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) charges private estates and organisati­ons for the right to stalk deer on public land.

FLS said almost 10,000 deer have been killed on such recreation­al shoots in the past five years. It has made £587,000 from the permits, figures from the quango reveal.

Individual­s or groups bid for permits, with costs varying depending on the area.

They can take the dead red, sika, doe and fallow deer home to eat or mount on their walls as trophies.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously criticised hunting for sport and has vowed to review laws around it.

In October 2018 she tweeted that it was ‘totally understand­able’ that people found ‘dead animals being held up as trophies’ so ‘upsetting and offensive’. It followed the hunter Larysa Switlyk, 34, from Florida, posing with a dead goat after a shoot on Islay, Argyll.

Scottish Tory deputy leader Annie Wells said: ‘The SNP’s hypocrisy is very much in evidence here.

‘In public, they’re first off the mark to express horror at stories of hunting. Yet in private, SNP quangos are happy to cash in on that very practice.’

Eve Massie, of animal welfare charity One Kind, said: ‘If shooting of deer by FLS is inevitable, it must be carried out by trained shooters observing best practice and high standards of welfare, and not as a sport. There needs to be a high level of expertise and marksmansh­ip to ensure that culling of these animals is carried out as humanely as possible and this cannot be ensured when selling stalking.’

The FLS’s deer management strategy culls roughly 100,000 animals a year. Such population management is said to be necessary.

Almost half of the income for recreation­al stalking comes from forests in lowland regions.

An FLS spokesman said: ‘FLS provides limited opportunit­ies for recreation­al deer stalkers to cull deer.

‘Recreation­al deer management permission­s – in the correct locations and properly managed – can help FLS achieve important biodiversi­ty objectives and bring in revenue to the local economy. In the right circumstan­ces, recreation­al stalkers can be a helpful addition to our deer management activities.’

The Scottish Government said: ‘We are in regular discussion­s to ensure management of wildlife is carried out in a lawful and humane manner and in a way that recognises that, for many people, this a sensitive issue.’

 ??  ?? ‘OFFENSIVE’: American hunter Larysa Switlyk with a goat shot dead on Islay
‘OFFENSIVE’: American hunter Larysa Switlyk with a goat shot dead on Islay

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