Human volunteers are now pretending to be predators during the night in a bid to replicate the disturbance effects that keep deer on the move.
The hope is that this will alleviate grazing pressure on trees and help restore an area of ancient Highland woodland.
Project Wolf has been launched by Trees for Life at the charity’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston, Scotland, just west of Loch Ness.
It involves volunteers operating in teams of three “wolves”, regularly walking through the ancient woodlands during the night and at dusk and dawn.
The initiative is ongoing during Spring and early Summer, when – without hunting activity or the presence of large predators – there is nothing to prevent deer from feasting on newly emerging seedlings and the new season’s growth on any young trees.
Charity founder Alan Watson Featherstone said: “Grazing pressure on young trees by too many deer, today undisturbed by natural predators, is the major threat to Scotland’s native forests. This is starkly apparent in the surviving Caledonian Forest, where many remnants consist only of old and dying trees because young trees cannot survive the relentless browsing.”