SIR, – I do like a good deer argument, but there is something more than a bit odd about the theory that dead deer have been moved in to an easy-to-find pile in remote Glen Nevis to somehow undermine the John Muir Trust and so affect the outcome of a Scottish Government announcement on deer management in Scotland. ('Dodgy dealings over dead deer discovery on John Muir Trust ground', in the press last weekend).

In a place like that, the only people who would have known the deer were there would be whoever shot them and any walkers coming by. I note a dog in one of the published pictures, so presumably this is how they were found.

The first story I read suggested a walker had found two animals, now it appears to be seven, so there is information coming from different sources here. That doesn’t sound like a stitch-up to me.

The suggestion that gamekeepers are going to travel up to a snowy Glen Nevis, in January, to trail deer carcases to a point where walkers can take offence at them is just nonsense.

That is not going to happen.

The suggestion that the John Muir Trust are so important to our ongoing deer debate that they have to be undermined, is not viable either. I am afraid they had already undermined themselves in 2015 when they left 86 stags lying out on a hillside in Knoydart.

This back history will be part of this story. Give a dog a bad name and all that.

Highlanders have long memories and so, too, do politicians The reality is that deer management in Scotland is in a strong position at the moment following the 2019 assessment by the then Scottish Natural Heritage.

We don’t need dodgy tactics. The facts can stand for themselves. The John Muir Trust are not a major player and do not need to be undermined.

There are circumstances in which some thin deer are best left out on the hill, but it is not good practice to make them easy to find in areas where you know the public are going to be present.

So, the issue here is one of poor practice. It is not a good thing for any property, but especially not for a conservation NGO which campaigns on deer management issues and who has been caught out for doing this before.

It is a problem for everyone who has helped improve standards of stalking, venison handling and land management more generally over the past 20 years or so, because it risks undermining those efforts.

JMT needs to tighten up its procedures so that this doesn’t happen again. Ultimately, that means playing by the same rules as everyone else and not trying to pretend to people that they have discovered a better way. T

he conspiracy line is weak and implausible. We have to operate in the real world.

If a mistake has been made, then the best approach would simply be to own up to it and move on.

Victor Clements

Native Woodland Advice,

Mamie’s Cottage,