For many of you, Megan Rowland needs no introduction. She is a Deer Management Officer for NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency. Before that, she worked as a surveyor for RSPB Scotland where she surveyed the entire suite of Highland bird species. She has also been a volunteer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, a local Raptor Study Group, the Scottish Mink Initiative, and the British Red Cross. Megan is a founding member of the Scottish Crofting Federations’ Young Crofters. Moreover, she’s The Youth Ambassador for the Highland branch of the British Deer Society and a Lantra Scotland Game & Wildlife Industry Champion.
That is a really impressive resume and I am excited to bring you my conversation with Megan. We started our chat with a general discussion about the red deer situation in Scotland and related land use and land management issues. From there I asked a few questions related to deer stalking in the Highlands. So, those of you who dream about a Highland stag might pick up some useful tips. Finally, we ended up talking about rewilding since no podcast about land management in Scotland would be complete without this topic.
Regular listeners have already heard that this episode was coming. And we’ve been planning it for a long time. Conflicting schedules, travel plans and life, in general, were always getting in the way. But boy, was it worth waiting for!
And so, we sat down for a chat with Dr Ruth Carden, a zoologist, who specialises in the zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages. To the casual reader, Ruth is probably best known for her groundbreaking discovery of butchering marks on a reindeer bone found in the Castlepook Cave in north Cork. This discovery dramatically changed our understanding of Irish human history, pushing back the earliest signs of human activity by 20,000 years.
We discussed this discovery as well as other topics related to Ruth’s research, including Irish glacial fauna with a particular focus on the Giant Irish Deer which is sometimes, incorrectly, called Irish elk. I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t asked Ruth about wild boar in Ireland. Were they native to Ireland at one point in time? You need to listen to this episode to find out.
And here is the craziest thing. All that research work is self-funded by Ruth and done largely in her spare time. Please, keep an eye on Tommy’s Outdoors website as we will shortly let you know how you can financially support Ruth’s efforts. For now, I want to give a massive shout out to the car company that co-sponsored one of those projects: K&N Motors, Dublin 22. A big round of applause for these folks, please!