"For thousands of years, people in the British Isles lived with and depended on
wild animals for food and clothes. The land teemed with species such as deer,
boar, wolves, lynx and beavers. Then came farming, population growth and
industrialisation. Many species were hunted to extinction and their habitats
Archaeological research reaches back in time to understand how humans and wild
animals interacted. Ancient bones and teeth reveal these complex relationships.
Today, interactions between wild animals and people are often in the news, from
urban foxes to tree-felling beavers and wild boars. Even the red deer – the
monarch of the glen, celebrated as a symbol of wild Scotland – is facing
widespread calls for population control and, on the Hebridean island of South
Uist, total eradication.
Deer were a mainstay of British diets before farming and, out on the islands,
my research demonstrates they remained an important food source beyond the 15th
century. It was only in the middle ages that deer became the preserve of royal
hunts and later the favoured prey of fee-paying hunters.
Today they are often viewed as pests by the communities they impact. A
combination of factors, including COVID-19 and climate change, has seen deer
numbers increase and affect both landscapes and gardens. They also cause
accidents on roads and carry the ticks that pass on Lyme disease.
As wild animals, they are not owned and only become someone’s property when
they are captured or killed by persons entitled by law to do so. This is
usually the owners of the land they inhabit. Land owning estates manage most
herds and may provide hunting access for a fee."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics