Order to destroy 'invasive' Muntjac deer backed by MSPs
MSPs have backed an order to destroy an "invasive" species of deer if found in the wild in Scotland.
Muntjac deer, branded 'asbo bambi' by critics in England, where they roam free, are blamed for causing road accidents and damage to crops.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said there was no known population in the wild in Scotland, adding: "We would like to maintain that situation."
The order was backed by members on Holyrood's Rural Affairs Committee.
The regulation requires muntjac to be kept only under licence.
It adds: "By reason of their destructive habits it is desirable to control the keeping of them and to destroy any such which may be at large."
Mr Lochhead said: "Muntjac deer are originally from Asia and are already an invasive non-native species in England and Wales.
"They're widespread in south and central England but have a patchy distribution between the Humber and the Scottish borders.
"They are destructive animals, or invasive species to use the more modern term.
"They can have significant negative impacts in the wild, both to biodiversity and economic interest."
Mr Lochhead said the animals damaged orchards, cereal crops, coppice woods and bluebells and had been known to add to accident risks on roads.
The committee also heard that some of the species were kept securely in deer parks in Fife.
MSPs unanimously backed the provisions of the Muntjac Keeping (Scotland) Order 2011.