Humane dispatch2

Specialist Alternative Methods

Practitioners who regularly assist police with the humane dispatch of DVC injured deer should have their own third party insurance specifically for that purpose. Controllers are also advised to keep a record of each incident in which they are involved.


There will be situations where it is not appropriate to use a firearm due to safety considerations or due to the time it would take to get someone to the scene with the appropriate weapon.

Other commonly used methods include:

  • Drugs. This method can only be administered by qualified individuals such as vets. Those administering drugs are responsible for ensuring that carcasses do not enter the food chain and are disposed of safely.
  • Captive Bolt. This is a specialist instrument generally used by trained slaughter person. For further information and guidance on the use of captive-bolts contact the Humane Slaughter Association.*
  • Use of a Knife. Where no suitable alternative is available a knife may be used to dispatch an injured deer, but should only be considered if the operator is experienced in using this method.
  • Under current law ensure you have “just cause” for carrying a knife in a public place (The Prevention of Crime Act 1953, The Criminal Justice Act 1988).
  • Ensure the deer is safe to approach. Only proceed if satisfied that using a knife does not endanger the operator.
  • Operators should be aware of the dangers of physically handling injured deer, particularly antlered male deer.
  • Use a sharp knife with a fixed blade at least 5 inches (120mm) long.

Ensuring Death

flow chart

  • Once the humane dispatch procedure has been performed, check for an eye reflex to make sure the animal is dead. Repeat the humane dispatch procedure if required.

Touch the eye surface and look for a reflex-if none, the animal is dead or unconscious and nearly dead. The eyes will be open and appear glassy. Closed or squinted eyes may indicate that the animal is conscious and still alive.

Disposing of the Carcass

  • Ensure that the person responsible for disposal of the carcass is identified and is aware of the need to remove it.

Dispatching DVC injured deer: general

  • Before dispatching a Deer Vehicle Collision (DVC) injured deer where the general public are present or in close proximity, ensure the police have been notified. This may help mitigate against possible allegations of offences such as wreckless discharge of a firearm, or causing fear and alarm.
  • If carrying out dispatch on a public road, ensure the Police have been notified in advance.
  • As a safeguard against accusations of offences and/or malpractice, the person dispatching the deer should complete an accident report form, taking note of the police officer(s) and any member(s) of the public present.

Dispatching immobile DVC injured deer

  • Where an injured deer has been found suffering injuries which have rendered it immobile, an on-site situation assessment should be made on the most appropriate method to be used to humanely dispatch it.**

Dispatching mobile DVC injured deer

Where a deer has been known to have been injured through an DVC, but is still mobile, an assessment as to the extent of its injuries must be made.*** In DVC’s where deer are believed to have sustained minor injury no further action need be taken. An obvious example would be if the deer was just clipped by a vehicle, remained on its feet, and made off showing no signs of being injured.

  • If a DVC injured deer has moved from the road on to neighbouring land the landowner should be notified. When reporting a mobile DVC injured deer to the Police provide a clear description of the location (six fig grid reference where possible). The Police officer dealing with the incident should then contact the landowner(s)/ occupier(s) on whose land the deer is believed to be. If the landowner is in a position to dispatch he/she should do so.
  • Where an injured mobile deer has disappeared in to a concealing habitat, such as woodland a trained dog will be required to secure it. If the owner /occupier has access to a trained dog and handler capable of tracking and securing the wounded deer, this person should be contacted immediately. This is very much a specialist area of dog work and only dogs specifically trained and proven in the field should be used.****
  • Although under section 25 of the Deer (Scotland) Act an injured deer can be killed with a weapon other than those normally allowed. Any nominated individual setting out with the sole purpose of securing a mobile injured deer should, where practical, use the rifle/ammunition combinations described in BPG ‘Rifles and Ammunition’.

Carcass removal

  • The controller should be aware that the carcass legally belongs to the owner of the ground upon which it lies. The carcass should not be removed without the consent of the landowner
  • Where a carcass presents a threat to road users, it is the responsibility of the police to remove that threat.
  • Ensure that carcasses of deer euthansed by drugs are disposed of appropriately so as to avoid entry into the human/animal food chain.*****
  • Where the carcass is on the roadside, within the ownership of Local Authority, they would normally be responsible for it’s removal.
  • Subject to approval of the landowner, the person dispatching may remove and dispose of the carcass.


  • All persons involved in deer management should consider having adequate public liability cover.

Practitioners who regularly dispatch DVC injured deer

  • Practitioners specialising in the humane dispatch of DVC deer should have the necessary experience, equipment (such as high visibility clothing), training and where possible formal proof of competence such as Deer Stalking Certificate Level 2 and/or be on the SNH Fit & Competent Register.******

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Key to symbols

  • This symbol highlights a legal requirement. It is an offence not to comply.
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to safeguard public safety, food safety and animal welfare.  
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to carry out the task effectively.

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