Scottish Deer Health Survey 2017 – 19

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in News | Comments Off on Scottish Deer Health Survey 2017 – 19

Deer stalkers and deer managers across the uplands and lowlands are being encouraged to take part in the Scottish Deer Health Survey, possibly the largest research programme ever of this type in the UK, to establish the prevalence or otherwise of a number of health risks across all of Scotland’s wild deer species.

The research project, which runs over two years and is funded by Food Standards Scotland and the Scottish Government, is being undertaken by the Moredun Research Institute and Edinburgh University, and is supported by Scotland’s wild deer sector, the Association of Deer Management Groups, the Lowland Deer Network Scotland and the Scottish Venison Partnership.

The initiative was launched in August. Its objective is to assess the prevalence of E. coli O157, Cryptosporidium and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the Scottish wild deer population, all species, upland and lowland.

Alerted to the risk of E. coli O157 in processed wild venison products in an outbreak in 2015, scientists suspect that its actual prevalence may be very low in Scottish wild deer.  However, the Scottish venison industry, which is helping to meet a healthy and ever increasing demand for venison products in the UK, would benefit from having this verified, along with information on which stages of the venison production process carry higher risks of potential contamination from E. coli.

It is intended that this research once concluded can help to inform current Best Practice guidelines for processing of carcasses and reduce any risk to human health, and is considered a vital part of the knowledge bank if the industry is to continue to grow and develop.

The research project will also involve screening faecal samples for the parasite Cryptosporidium and rectal tissue samples for CWD, both of which are currently seen as risks to deer health and welfare.  CWD is especially prevalent in certain states in the USA and has been reported in Scandinavia where it was diagnosed in moose, and in March 2016 in wild reindeer from the Nordfjella mountain area in Norway resulting in a Government order to cull of the herd and a quarantining of the ground.

For the research project, sample collection is a simple process that can be done at the time of the gralloch or in the larder. It is hoped that more than 1000 faecal and tissue samples will be collected from all deer habitat across Scotland including the islands in order to provide the broadest picture of where risk from such issues may be highest.

Instructions about how to collect samples are contained within the packs and also here:
More information
Sampling protocol

For more information please contact Tom McNeilly ( or Beth Wells ( tel. 0131 445 6157.