Record cull in South Uist ahead of historic vote


SGA NEWS photo

SGA Media has received an update on the depth of the red deer cull currently being undertaken on South Uist ahead of Monday’s historic EGM vote which will decide the fate of the region's entire red deer population.

At 7pm on 20th March 2023, residents will decide whether or not to completely eradicate the area's deer (numbering around 1000 animals); with red deer recorded as native to the Uists since Neolithic times.

Cull figure update

SGA Media can reveal the actual cull by Storas Uibhist professional stalkers now stands at 166 hinds (26 over the target), 53 calves (8 over target) and 110 Stags (40 over target).


This tally of 329- and counting- is now, by far, the highest cull of deer carried out in South Uist since the community buy-out of 2006.


The initial deer management group target for South Uist was 140 hinds, 45 calves and 70 Stags - a total of 255 animals.


Media Headlines: The region that could wipe out its deer


SGA NEWS photo

The potential for South Uist to vote to eradicate its deer population has attracted nationwide media attention. Today (March 16th) several newspapers ran the story, sitting alongside the news that a NatureScot-approved cull on an ‘absentee’ landlord estate had concluded with 160 animals shot and processed.

On Wednesday, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg called for ‘clear headed thinking’ on the proposed (‘irreversible’) step, pointing out the conservation, employment and moral repercussions of actively choosing to wipe out a local deer population.

The SGA acknowledges the conflicts between humans and deer and respects community democracy but has urged caution, questioning whether this is the 'only' resolution.

See the full SGA statement, here:


See some more NEWS headlines, below.


Hebrides News:

Red Deer in the Uists

Although the native deer of South Uist have been over-exploited, before, for venison, and re-introduced (like Capercaillie and beaver to mainland Scotland), archaeological findings record red deer on the Uists from as far back as the Neolithic period.

See table below: 

SGA NEWS photo

Deer Count discrepancies


The rise in deer numbers on South Uist between the latest count, and the previous deer count, is a factor which has precipitated the eradication motion by a portion of the crofting community.


Those driving the eradication push have questioned the ability of the community-owned estate to control deer numbers adequately.


There is a background to the discrepancies in the counts.


It has been acknowledged by Scotland’s nature body NatureScot that the rise in deer numbers between the previous 2018 helicopter count on South Uist and the latest (more comprehensive count, in good weather conditions) can be accounted for by error which NatureScot have accepted some responsibility for. 


NatureScot officials recently told deer management group representatives that such a rise in numbers between the two counts was otherwise ‘biologically impossible’ and could only be accounted for through an error in the 2018 tally; from which Storas Uibhist based its cull plan. Cull effort has duly been increased accordingly (see above) by the community-owned estate to take account of the disparity.


Lyme Disease


The high incidence of Lyme Disease amongst residents of the South Uist community has been cited as one of the reasons to eradicate the deer population. 


Whilst deer carry ticks, they are not a reservoir for Lyme Disease. Sheep, plentiful on South Uist, small mammals and birds- also present- all carry ticks. Distinguishing one single cause, therefore, is complex and problematic. 


Latest research suggests deer produce antibodies which counter infection whilst also cleansing infected ticks of Lyme disease, preventing them from infecting other hosts.


Without removing all other tick hosts on South Uist it would be scientifically impossible to pin sole causation for Lyme disease cases in South Uist on deer.

SGA NEWS photo

SGA NEWS photo









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