Record deer numbers 'damaging countryside'

Record numbers of wild deer are being blamed for an increase in damage to the countryside and a rising toll of road accidents.

Forty-four years after the Red Deer Commission was set up to deal with the excessive population, a report by the WWF and RSPB in Scotland claims many landowners have failed to control the deer, reckoned now at a million head throughout the UK.

The study said the number of road accidents in Britain caused by collisions or near-misses with deer was estimated at between 20,000 and 42,000 a year. In the past five years nine people were killed and 10 seriously injured in Scotland in collisions with deer, mainly because it has the biggest population of deer.

The report called for the Scottish Executive to increase the powers and resources of the Deer Commission to deal with the problem sooner rather than later.