Deep in the heart of the Scottish highlands, deer hunters are fueling conservation from the sale of hunted venison.
Cairngorms National Park is 1,748 square miles of pristine and unique habitat, through which tens of thousands of red deer roam without natural predators.
Every year thousands of are culled by deer stalkers to protect over-feeding on the vegetation in the delicate natural ecosystem. Now, one of the organizations responsible for managing the park is taking those culled animals and turning them into commercial venison to help fund their work.
Saving the Cairngorms “one sausage at a time,” has become a bit of a rallying cry for Cairngorms Connect, who are responsible for protecting and restoring around 239 square miles of the park’s finest features.
“As a 200-year project, Cairngorms Connect needs local people to be at the heat of the habitat restoration vision,” Jack Ward, deer stalker with Cairngorms Connect, said.
“At a time when people are becoming more conscious of their consumer habits, venison provides an exciting opportunity to involve new audiences in our habitat restoration vision.”
As part of its work, Cairngorms Connect is looking to grow new patches of native Caledonian woodland to replace the 99% of this unique habitat that has been historically lost.
Rampant grazing by the red deer threatens the project, and with no natural predators, the population, as so many are across America, have to be controlled.
The partnership is now selling official Cairngorms Connect Venison, using meat produced during its deer management.
Cairngorms Connect partners, the organization writes, have seen the positive impact of deer management—there are more young trees visible on the forest edge, and the slow march of native woodland is now visible on the slopes of the Cairngorms.
Necessary deer management also produces venison which they believe should represent an accessible and environmentally-sustainable source of high quality and sustainable protein.
Press and Journal reports that the venison sausages are a big hit among birdwatchers from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, (RSPB) which, like Cairngorms Connect, manages a part of the park.
“The venison has been really popular with visitors to the RSPB Loch Garten Nature Centre,” said Fergus Cumberland, visitor operations manager for RSPB Scotland, “And what better way to restore a habitat than one sausage at a time?”