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Research at St Andrews

Abi Whitefield


Research overview

PhD Title

Developing Policies for Managing Urban Deer in Scotland: Understanding Perceptions to Shape Policymaking

Research aim:

To explore perceptions of and barriers to deer management in and around towns in Scotland


Deer management is a contentious issue within Scottish environmental policy. Although deer in Scotland are iconic and generally evoke positive public attitudes, they have a variety of negative impacts on the environment and on public safety (Warren, 2009; Scottish Government, 2014). Deer are increasingly encroaching into peri-urban and urban areas in Scotland, causing increased adverse impacts (such as deer-vehicle collisions; disease transmission; damage to gardens) and therefore are more likely to need to be managed in the coming years. However, this area has received very little academic attention, with only one research project (Dandy et al, 2009; 2011; 2012) focusing on peri-urban deer management in Scotland. This is compared to tens-to-hundreds of studies focusing on urban deer management in the US. This project aims to examine public, ‘expert' and policymaker (local authority) perceptions of deer and deer management in urban areas of Scotland.  Local authorities could play a key role in urban deer management and have been deemed as an important urban land manager within Scottish deer management policies and papers (Code of Practice of Deer Management, 2012; Deer Panel Review, 2019). Yet, many have so far failed to engage with deer management, with it reported that this is often as a result of perceived public backlash. It is important that local authority, expert and public perceptions are understood so that local authority management policies can reflect these, to try and minimise backlash and increase support for management methods. Perceptions will be gathered through social science methods such as surveys, interviews and Q-methodologies, and will be analysed through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. This project aims to create workable policy suggestions which will help aid the future of deer management in urban Scotland.


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