PLOCKTON PUZZLER: Mystery over spate of deer deaths in west coast village

The deer have been found in various locations

Mystery surrounds a spate of unexplained roe deer deaths in Plockton over recent weeks.

Nine dead deer have been discovered in various locations in the Wester Ross village, the latest one in a front garden in Harbour Street.

Their bodies have been unmarked, ruling out vehicle strikes or poachers. All the animals appeared well fed and apparently healthy.

Local people are now wondering if the deer, which are partial to foraging in local gardens, could be eating something which is poisonous to them. 

Police collected one of the dead animals, a roe deer fawn found near the High School, and have contacted Scottish Government vets with a view to having a post mortem investigation carried out in a bid to ascertain cause of death.  

Local resident Charlie MacRae said: “One roe deer was found lying dead in the garden of a house in Harbour Street, just up the road from me.

“There was not a mark on it, so it hadn’t been hit by a vehicle. Others were found elsewhere in the village. There have been nine in total, found dead over the past three months or so.

“This is the first time something like this has happened. It’s very strange.

“They reckon it could be something they ate. Some people say camellias are poisonous to deer but I don’t know if that’s true.

“They are lovely little animals, and you wouldn’t like to think of them having a painful death.”

Mr MacRae added: “Certainly there have been more roe deer in Plockton over the last few years. They like to come into the gardens and eat the flowers so they can be a problem and are not very popular with some people.”

Iain Turnbull, local estate manager with the National Trust for Scotland which is a main landowner around Plockton, said he had inspected the roe fawn and could see no sign of injury. 

“Because of the apparent frequency of the roe deer deaths I went down to Kyle and reported it to the local police,” said Mr Turnbull.

“The police are not treating it as a crime at present, but more like something the deer have eaten or a disease they have contracted. 

“The habitat here is perfect for them and there would be no reason for them to be starving, especially at this time of year. The fawn was probably still dependent on its mum in any case.

“The trust has not given anyone consent to shoot them, although crofters clearly have a right to deal with deer that come on to their crofts.

“It’s puzzling and a post mortem on the roe deer fawn could be inconclusive.”

In the meantime, Mr Turnbull urged anyone coming across a dead roe deer in the area to report it to Kyle Police.  

Article by Jackie MacKenzie