Stags will leave Kinlochleven on their own if feeding stops

The stags have a habit of grazing around the Park Road Play Area, leading to concerns of disease being spread from faeces and ticks from the deer contributing to Lyme disease.

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People in Kinlochleven are being advised by Scottish Natural Heritage to simply ignore stags which have begun to get overly comfortable in the village.

A well-attended meeting of the Kinlochleven Community Council (KCC) heard that one of the stags had put its nose into a local’s bag of shopping and they have been seen on the path which connects Wades Road to the B863 when children are walking home from school.

It was suggested the problem should be dealt with before the deer get even more comfortable in the village, and that they should be shot as soon as the stalking season begins in July.

KCC did not want to endorse such drastic action, but found there is little residents can do to stop the deer wandering around the village other than leave them alone.

Operations manager for wildlife management with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Donald Fraser told the Lochaber Times residents should stop interacting with the stags to avoid more brazen behaviour in future.

He said: ‘The first thing that needs to be done is to stop feeding the deer, and after that then just ignore them. If they know they can’t get food in the village any more, they will naturally move away and not cause an issue.

‘The longer the feeding goes on, the more used to it and dependent they will become on the food. There will be plenty of food in the surrounding area, but they’re going for the easy pickings.

‘While stags will lose their antlers in a few weeks, they can still act aggressively by kicking and getting up on their hind legs. Warmer weather usually takes them into higher ground as well, so stopping the feeding now will mean they should leave the area on their own.

‘The more dependent and habituated the deer are on handouts, the more comfortable they will become with looking for food from people. Looking through bags is a sign of that and their fear of humans has diminished.’

There is also the risk of Lyme disease posed by the ticks which deer bring into the residential areas of the village.

Mr Cameron said the best way to exclude deer from a particular area is with a fence as other deterrent measures have very little effect.

The community council have been doing what they can to prevent the stags becoming a danger to public safety by informing people of the risks they pose by feeding wild deer.

There is an awareness that if someone were to be hurt and the deer become a public safety concern, more serious action will have to be taken.

A statement asking people to stop feeding from KCC said: ‘For some of you this will be again a slight on your right to do as you wish, for others it is confirmation that something more permanent ought to be done. For the larger majority, feeding should stop immediately and nature should take precedence. Maybe legislation is required but that too takes time and we can’t wait years for that to take effect.’