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The aim of the project was to explore the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge amongst decision-makers involved in the management of red deer in Scotland. While research exists on the ecology of red deer habitat, no research exists that focuses on the relationship between the deer and the people responsible for their management. Therefore, this thesis is primarily qualitative research which aimed to explore the various aspects of red deer management in Scotland within the socio-ecological context in which it exists. There are numerous groups with interest in red deer management, however this research, due to scope and time restrictions, was limited to two primary groups, the individuals tasked with implementing policy and the practitioners who carry out culling. During the course of the project, under-researched topics surfaced, highlighting areas of practical and theoretical divergence between stakeholders. This thesis therefore aims to explore how differing views and perspectives of two of the key stakeholder groups – the estate-based practitioners (including stalkers, land-managers, and land-owners) and staff of governmental agencies – influence the management of red deer in Scotland. This research indicates that people with different roles hold different relationships with the deer, which affect management decisions and implementation at local, regional, and/or national level. As with other areas within conservation and wildlife management, this research indicates there is a disconnect between blanket governmental policy and site-specific needs, with a lack of inclusion of practitioner knowledge. Potential future research would include additional qualitative research to follow up some of the management issues raised by this research and formulate recommendations for changes to practice, followed by collection of quantitative data assessing the efficacy of interventions.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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