Proposed changes to the length of the culling season for female deer could damage the mental health of gamekeepers.
That was the warning from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), which has produced a short film to highlight its concerns.
The association has criticised proposals in a Scottish Government-commissioned report to extend the cull season from its current period of October 21 until February 15 to a longer season beginning on September 1 and running until April 15.
It says lengthening the season will increase the chance of dependent calves starving to death if their mothers are shot in September and deer managers cannot also dispatch the calf.
It also warns a longer season will result in deer managers potentially having to cut large calves from the stomachs of heavily pregnant female deer.
SGA chairman, Alex Hogg, said increasing the length of the season “could leave mental scars on deer managers” unaccustomed to this style of management.
“Anyone who loves animals would not love this,” added Mr Hogg.
“We fought hard for deer seasons so some dignity and respect could be preserved. If the deer working group recommendations are adopted, extending the seasons by over 15 weeks, Scotland is basically endorsing slaughter in the open air.”
He said the SGA film is designed to show members of the public the size of a deer foetus, which was cut from the stomach of a female deer which had to be humanely dispatched after a road accident in March.