Scotland’s only commercial herd of bison may have to be culled if new premises are not found for them.
North-east farmer Scott Shand has made an emotional appeal for assistance to save the animals after a land deal fell through, leaving both his business and the animals’ lives in jeopardy.
Mr Shand and his wife, Shelagh Bonner-Shand, have more than 50 Caledonian bison at an estate between Banchory and Aboyne, but their current lease will expire next month.
The couple, who built up and started to expand the unusual bison meat enterprise Scottish Bison, thought they had secured a new option for land in Inverurie. However, the seller withdrew two weeks before the herd was due to be moved there, leaving the pair with less than a month to secure a new location.
Mr Shand, 44, said the couple were coming to terms with the strong possibility they would lose their business but were desperate to ensure the herd, some of which are in calf, would be saved.
“The biggest thing now is that it is not about us, it is not about the business, but it is about the animals,” he said. “It is about saving the herd. Whatever we can possibly do to save them, that is our priority.
“We are just a normal couple trying to do something different. But now we have had to put everything aside, we desperately want to preserve the herd.”
The couple started their business in Muchalls, near Stonehaven, more than four years ago and moved to Deeside to expand.
Mr Shand said: “We were given a very tight deadline by the estate we are currently on, and will have to pay unaffordable charges if we overstay the deadline.
“If nothing can be found, we will be left with no option but to cull the herd. We are talking about in excess of 50 animals.”
The herd requires around 100 to 200 acres, and Mr Shand is appealing for landowners to come forward if they are able to lease their land.
“This is a gut-wrenching thing for us,” he said.
If anyone is able to help, contact the couple by e-mail at info@scottishbison. co.uk