Islanders on South Uist vote against mass culling of red deer

Around 200 people had signed a petition calling for red deer to be eradicated.

South Uist: Islanders vote against mass culling of all red deer on 93,000-acre estate iStock

Islanders have voted against culling all the red deer on a 93,000-acre estate in South Uist.

Concerns had been raised by some residents about the spread of Lyme disease, which can be passed to humans from parasitic ticks carried by the deer.

There have also been complaints about the deer damaging grazing land and gardens.

But in a referendum organised by Storas Uibhist – the community group which owns the estate – residents voted 379-140 to save the animals.

Darren Taylor, chief executive officer at Storas Uist, welcomed the decision at Monday night’s meeting.

He said: “We didn’t think that eradication was necessary; we said all along that we will cull [some] deer and will continue to cull deer.

“We didn’t think that eradication was right for the community and it is clear that the community have agreed with us this evening.”

A total of 166 hinds, 53 calves and 97 stags were culled this winter, with plans to repeat those numbers each year.

Around 200 residents had signed a petition calling for all red deer on the estate to be culled.

One of them, Ronnie Mackenzie, said: “I am disappointed the vote went against us by a considerable margin.

“Immediately there are no next steps, but we will wait for Storas to live up to their promises.”