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People in communities across South Uist are turning against the red deer that roam the islands.

But community landowner Stòras Uibhist says it opposes a community proposal to eliminate deer from the estate.

The future of the deer population is now to be decided at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Monday, March 20, in Southend Community Hall.

The proposal to banish the deer has been moved by Ronnie Mackenzie and follows ongoing complaints about nuisance deer and claims the deer herd are exacerbating ticks and increasing Lyme disease cases.

His resolution to the EGM reads, “We propose that SnBM removes all deer from the estate area and concentrates on finding other viable alternatives uses and employment opportunities for land presently occupied by deer.

“These alternative land uses should be in accordance with the stated Stòras Uibhist mission of representing their members and community, of facilitating the provision of environmentally conscious projects in line with community needs and in supporting biodiversity.”

Voting forms and proxy votes will be sent to members shortly, say Stòras Uibhist.

However, the estate board adds: “The board wish to inform members that they believe this resolution to be against the best interests of the company and encourage members to vote against the resolution.”

The resolution was lodged at the estate office on Monday, February 13, the same day Bornish Community Council published its survey on deer impact on the community during October and November 2022 and two days before the estate’s deer cull was due to be completed.

The survey concludes “there are significant issues” and that the presence of deer in the Bornish Community Council area has a “substantial negative impact” on local people.

The survey, which had an 81% response rate, found that only 7% of households believe deer to be an asset. In contrast, almost half the households are clear that they are a detriment to the community.

Commenting on the survey results, the community council says: “Particular issues include the effect on crofting infrastructure, gardening and vegetable growing - and growing concerns regarding the link between deer and the recent major increase in Lyme disease.

“These issues have been in existence for a number of years but have considerably increased over the past two years.”

The survey also revealed two connected but separate issues: inadequate deer management strategy, policy and implementation, including the response to deer complaints, and wider concerns over inadequate consultation and engagement over issues of importance to the community.

States Bornish Community Council: “There is a recognition that there is not one simple solution to the issues – but a clear recognition that urgent action is required, which includes an input from the local people affected, as well as other stakeholders.”

A WhatsApp group called North Uist Marauding Deer was launched to tackle nuisance deer earlier this month.

The estate deer cull, which finished on Wednesday, February 15, exceeded its original kill targets.

The deer cull had removed a record number of deer since the buyout, with 163 hinds, 49 calves and 95 stags being shot as of Friday, February 10.

The winter cull targets, announced in November last year, were 140 hinds, 45 calves and 70 stags.

The numbers were arrived at after a helicopter count last August and in conjunction with Nature Scot and the Association of Deer Management Groups. All of the animals have been processed and sold.