SCOTLAND'S NEW clampdown on Covid-19 has come at a bad time for deer stalking businesses, which were just getting their stag season properly underway.

Association of Deer Management Groups chairman Richard Cooke said that the new restrictions to stem the spread of the disease – particularly with regard to accommodation – will have a severe impact on the sector.

“This really cuts the legs from under many rural businesses throughout Scotland that rely on let stalking income to fund deer management, particularly to pay the wages of regular and seasonal employees," said Mr Cooke.

“The new restrictions on self-catering accommodation, requiring that only one family can stay in rented holiday accommodation at any one time, will now prevent many planned stalking visits by people from Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and abroad. Restrictions on vehicle sharing are also placing a challenge on the sector."

Mr Cooke added: “We undertook a survey earlier this year looking at the damage that could result from such measures and from that arrived at a figure of up to £9 million loss across Scotland’s rural sector, not including lost or devalued venison sales.

“Whilst understanding fully why these additional measures are now being put in place, I will be writing to Ministers to express what the likely effects of them will be on income for rural businesses from stalking lets, on employment and on the deer cull.”