Gamekeepers have raised concerns about the use of night-time shoots to control red deer numbers.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) supports seasonal day-time shoots.
It claimed night-time shoots to protect forestry were rising and were a factor in herds being “constantly harassed”.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said night-time shooting was only authorised when there was “clear evidence” of a need to control deer.
SGA said night-time shoots, coupled with disturbance caused by day-time recreational activities in the hills, risked driving deer from upland to lowland areas where they could cause damage, or run on to busy roads.
The association claimed applications to SNH for night-time shoots by groups seeking to protect forestry had increased by 300% in the last 10 years.
‘Impacts on health’
SGA vice chairman Peter Fraser said deer behaviour was being affected.
He said: “Deer feed in the morning and rest up during the day.
“However, due to more people using the hills, they can be on the move in daylight and they are also getting targeted now at night time to protect forestry.
“They are constantly harassed, which causes them to disperse and also impacts on body health.”
Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s head of wildlife management, said culls were sometimes required to ensure healthy deer populations, reduce road traffic accidents and prevent significant damage to agriculture, forestry and nature.
He said night shooting was a “crucial” part of this.
Mr Kernahan added: “We only issue authorisations for night shooting when there is clear evidence of damage or likely damage, and managers must provide evidence that effective deer control is not possible through any other means.
“It’s more important than ever in Scotland to ensure deer are managed sustainably, and we look forward to working with SGA on best ways forward in conserving and protecting nature.”