Friday, 26 August 2016

Office Hours

The SGA Office will be closed for the Public Holidays on Monday 29th August, Monday 5th September and Monday 3rd October.  If you require anything urgently then please call and the phones will be transferred to the office managers mobile.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

SGA STATEMENT: MISSING HEN HARRIER

GAMEKEEPERS' RESPONSE TO RSPB PRESS RELEASE ON MISSING HEN HARRIER
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "As with other recent allegations, the SGA will work with Police Scotland and Scottish Government in an attempt to get to the bottom of this. It is clearly a situation which cannot go on. We have no independent information, at the present time, so getting the facts will be the first step. Speculation, at this stage, will not help.
"The SGA does not, and will never, condone wildlife crime. As an organisation we advocate legal solutions, solely, as the means to resolve conflicts. If there is any evidence of illegal activity by an SGA member, appropriate action will be taken."

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

PUBLIC CONSULTATION: SOUTH OF SCOTLAND GOLDEN EAGLE PROJECT


There are plans to increase the number of golden eagles in the South of Scotland.
If you have any views on this or want to learn more about the project, visit: https://www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk where you will also find a public consultation document.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

NOTICE TO SGA FISHING GROUP MEMBERS


Calling all SGA Fishing Group members and those seeking to join. At the first meeting in Perth, it was decided we would use a private Facebook forum to discuss initiatives and tasks going forward, for ease.

All group members we have email addresses for have been sent invitations to join the page. So far, a good number have. However, if you want to communicate with the other group members, and receive updates, please contact the SGA office on info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk to say so, and we can send out more invites for you to join the forum.

If it looks like this method of communicating is not going to work for all, we will go to group email although this does have limitations. One last try!

Those who are taking up positions on working groups for Wild Fisheries Reform will soon receive notifications about these. If you wish to discuss this, please contact the office on the email address above or 01738 587 515.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

SGA WILL WORK WITH POLICE OVER ALLEGATIONS

Eagle chick ringed with conservation agencies on a grouse moor in Angus in 2015. 
In response to a press release from RSPB Scotland, a Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said:

"The Scottish Gamekeepers Association will be asking its members to contact Police Scotland if they know anything regarding the allegations which have been made.
In the past two years the SGA has encouraged its 5300 members to record the eagles on the ground they manage in order to take positive ownership of the role they play in eagle conservation.
We were pleased to report three more nests in occupied territories last year (58), compared to the 2014 survey (55) and, this year, we are extending the survey further north for the first time.
Scotland has one of the highest concentrations of golden eagles in the world and we want our members, many of whom have had eagles on their ground for decades, to continue to be part of that success in a constructive way. Some of the most productive eagle nests in Scotland in the past few years have been on managed grouse moors, with rare triplets in one nest alone last year.
It is not in our, or any of our members' interests, whatsoever, to have negative publicity on the 11th August, the day before people are set to fly into Scotland from all over the world for the start of the grouse season- which injects millions into the rural economy- and to admire the beauty of our well managed landscapes.
We will be asking our members, therefore, to comply with any investigation by the Police or Scottish Government into such allegations. If there is any evidence of wrongdoing by any of our members, appropriate action will be taken."


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

SHOOTING SUPPORTS MORE SCOTTISH JOBS THAN EDINBURGH FESTIVAL

The Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe bring tourists to Scotland from all over the world to the premier global arts festival. However, shooting sports sustain more jobs in Scotland.

Gamekeepers believe shooting jobs have never been more valuable to Scotland than today, with more posts sustained by the activity than Edinburgh’s festivals.
At the same time as global tourists throng the capital’s streets for the biggest arts carnival in the world, sportsmen and women will be in Scotland’s hills for the start of the grouse season on Friday.
And although prospects for grouse are mixed in some regions, the season starts a wider country sports programme which supports 8800 full-time jobs per year in remote areas. *
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg believes, with uncertainty slowing Scotland’s economy, that this rich seam of employment has never been more important.
He says the SGA, which represents 5300 gamekeepers, stalkers, river and land ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers will be looking to work constructively with politicians to grow the vital rural industry.
“Compared to many other European countries, Scotland does not have an embedded ‘hunting’ culture and chunks of the population don’t know the impact the shooting seasons have to the country, economically.
“The 2014 ‘Value of Shooting’ Report by PACEC * showed 8800 full-time jobs relying on shooting. That is over 2000 more posts than is created by the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, Tattoo and Hogmanay combined (6021)*, according to the latest figures from Festivals Edinburgh. These festivals are a major attraction for Scotland and rightly so.
“Shooting jobs dwarf the growing music tourism market*, creates as many jobs as our number one food export, the farmed salmon sector*, and it will bring in more money- at £155 million a year*- than The Open Championship did at St Andrews in 2015*.
“There are real concerns for employment in rural Scotland at the moment, particularly in oil and gas, so gamekeepers and their families want to see the industry grow. We want to work with Scottish Government to make sure hard working people can continue to rely on these posts in future.”
Despite the economic impact of shooting in Scotland, the industry can attract criticism from anti bloodsports organisations.
The SGA Chairman says all industries must learn to cope with criticism, as long as it is substantiated.
“Shooting, by its nature, will never be popular in everyone’s eyes and the divisions in the countryside now can be negative.
“As an organisation, we seek to make progress and look forward. The industry has made significant strides in terms of best practice and regulation, today, is much tighter.
“There are opportunities that remain to be developed that can increase Scotland’s reputation, particularly in terms of premium game products like venison and we want to work towards that.
“Forestry and timber processing on the entire National Forest Estate in Scotland amount to less jobs than is supported by shooting (7225)*so this shows the scale of the employment in Scotland. It is important the skilled workforce is retained and new opportunities for the future are explored with decision makers.”

Sources: (1) and (2): PACEC report 2014: The Value of Shooting. Page 26. http://www.shootingfacts.co.uk/pdf/The-Value-of-Shooting-2014.pdf
(3) Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study: July 2016 by BOP Consulting
(8) Dec 2015: The Economic Contribution of Forestry and other Activities on Scotland’s National Forest Estate, CJC Consulting. http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/images/corporate/pdf/national-forest-estate-economic-contribution.pdf



More Economic Facts:

Grouse shooting alone is worth £30m in wages to Scotland’s economy. 

Impact of Deer Management on Scottish Economy is £140.8 million.

Impact of Game Angling to Scotland’s Economy is £113 million

In 2015/2016 Scotland’s five ski resorts generated £21 million.

Mountain Biking is worth £49.5 million to Scotland’s economy. 













Friday, 5 August 2016

PERTHSHIRE DEER STALKER LANDS SCOTTISH EDUCATION AWARD


Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg (left) and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, with award winner Sandy Reid (third from left) and wife Mairi at the trophy presentation.


A man whose vast knowledge of Scotland’s moorland species sparked a pioneering wildlife tourism attraction in Perthshire yesterday (FRI) landed a prestigious national award.
Sandy Reid (73), a deer stalker on Atholl Estates, was at the forefront of a move, back in 2005, to showcase the estate’s bountiful wildlife to visitors through a wildlife land rover ‘safari’.
Since then, Sandy has driven hundreds of visitors across Atholl’s moors to photograph iconic red deer Stags, resident golden eagles and lekking black grouse.
It is a move which has since been rolled out successfully on other Scottish sporting estates, contributing to a burgeoning wildlife tourism sector worth £127 million a year to Scotland’s rural economy.
Yesterday, the retired stalker’s vision was rewarded with the Ronnie Rose Trophy from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, named after the late forester, wildlife manager, MBE and author.
The silverware, which recognises years of dedication to conservation or education in game management, was presented to Sandy at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair by Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.
Sandy, who led stalking guests on the 150 000 acre estate for 49 years before running the safaris, said: “The project has been really successful in terms of education and it is an honour to receive this award from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association and the family of the late Ronnie Rose.
“There are many people who do not know what goes on beyond the A9. They don’t see the vastness of the land and how it is managed every day to produce an income and biodiversity.
“On one of the beats at Atholl, we have 186 black grouse and I am able to drive within 20 yards of them to let visitors see the lekks. People love to see the red deer close up, in the early morning or at nightfall, and I’ve had people in the back seeing Hen Harriers stealing food from each other in mid-air.
“It’s a chance to let people see what really goes on, how abundant predators are legally managed by the gamekeeping staff to promote a balance. It is also a way to speak to people and explain things like why eagles need large territories to bring up young.
“I am glad there are more and more estates today taking people out on visits, that would not necessarily want to go game shooting, but want to see lots of wildlife close up.”
Despite a busy safari schedule, Sandy still ghillies for guests on the estate’s salmon beats and flanks on grouse days around Perthshire and further afield.
He started his career as a pony boy and kennel hand before becoming a stalker on the Clunes beat at Atholl.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Sandy stood out amongst all the nominees for the way he continues to impart his wealth of knowledge, particularly to those coming at countryside management afresh. People love to see the huge range of wildlife we manage in Scotland. They don’t want to look at pictures; they want to see the real thing.
“We are delighted to honour Sandy with this award, as part of our Year of the Rural Worker 2016 programme.”
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said: “Sandy Reid is a well-deserved winner of the Ronnie Rose Award. He has shown real dedication to sharing his vast knowledge of the countryside to educate people and allow them to appreciate our unique wildlife and landscape through his wildlife land rover safaris. These safaris encourage tourism which contributes greatly to our rural economy.”


About the Award:
This will be the second awarding of the Ronnie Rose trophy for game/wildlife managers. It is awarded to individuals who have been nominated by peers for long service and lasting contributions to conservation or education in the undertaking of game management duties. 

In the two years to date, the SGA has received nominations from all over Scotland. Once received, a winner is decided by a vote of the full SGA Committee in consultation with the Rose family.

The award was inaugurated in 2015 in memory of Ronnie Rose, who died in December 2014. The trophy was specially commissioned by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, in association with the Rose family.

Ronnie Rose was a pivotal figure in the establishment of the SGA, a life member, award winning conservationist, author, MBE, forester and wildlife manager. 

Over a 50 year career, Ronnie Rose received many conservation accolades including the Balfour Brown Trophy for Humane and Sustainable Management of Deer.

He helped establish the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Loch Lomond and his pioneering work for Economic Forestry Group Scotland at Eskdalemuir is a permanent legacy to his stewardship.

His principles of forest design, which viewed wildlife as an asset, saw him oversee a 300 per cent increase in bird species in the forests of Eskdalemuir.
At neighbouring Blackhouse Forest, his management saw lekking blackcock rise by over 50 per cent at a time of spiralling national decline.
His book, Working with Nature: The Conservation and Management of Scottish Wildlife is still widely read and appreciated today.

About the 2016 Winner:
Sandy Reid (73) was a deer stalker on Atholl Estates for 49 years. Eleven years ago, close to his retirement age, he had a vision to take visitors out onto the 150 000 acre estate - famous for its Castle- to see the bountiful wildlife, using only a Land Rover and the knowledge of the local species he had amassed over his lengthy career.

Sandy's safaris at Blair Atholl are now an important part of the estate and Castle's tourism offering and his idea has been successfully copied on many estates in Scotland, contributing to the nation's wildlife tourism offering, worth £127m a year to the rural economy.

He has introduced hundreds of 'newcomers' to the flora and fauna of Highland Perthshire and helped them understand more of why land is managed the way it is, in Scotland.

Sandy educates tourists on wildlife management and gets them ‘up close and personal' with iconic red deer, golden eagles, Hen Harriers, native red squirrel and lekking black game.

At the age of 73, he still ghillies for guests on the Atholl salmon beats and flanks at local grouse days. He has spent a lifetime dedicated to the land and its many species. His tours are a way of giving something back to others for all the joy he has received from it himself.

For information on last year's inaugural award, and the winners, see: http://www.scottishfield.co.uk/rural-award-for-land-management-standard-bearers/

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association: http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk
Value of Nature Based Tourism to Scottish Economyhttp://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B720765.pdf








Friday, 22 July 2016

SGA STATEMENT: TRAPS, DEESIDE.

STATEMENT: SPRING TRAPS, DEESIDE.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “This is the first we, as an organisation, have heard about this so we will take time to make the appropriate inquiries. The SGA is an organisation which advocates best practice and condemns wildlife crime.”

Ends.




Thursday, 7 July 2016

Lyme project and demonstration of materials produced

The Rural Health and Wellbeing Team at the University of the Highlands and Islands have been working with Highland communities who may be exposed to ticks and Lyme disease over the past year as part of a study funded by The Robertson Trust and the European Space Agency.  During the research it was clear that there was a need for awareness raising information, as such I have been developing a package of information for use in Highland communities exposed to ticks, and potentially Lyme disease.  I’m planning a series of events to demonstrate the materials and get some feedback – the materials are in draft format, so there is potential for those who come along to the events to have a say in how the final product might look, but also to scope out options for a pilot study whereby the materials would be used by community members.

The events are open invite, so if you feel it would be worth circulating to your network please feel free to do so.  Details below:

-          Monday 11th July at 12:30 – Boat of Garten Community Hall
-          Wednesday 13th July at 10:00 – West Highland College, Fort William
-          Monday 18th July at 19:00 – Balloch Village Hall



Please contact sarah.morton@uhi.ac.uk for more detail or to advise attendance.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

GAMEKEEPERS RESPOND TO CHARITY'S UPLAND REPORT


Response to the publication of Scottish Wildlife Trust's 'Living Landscapes of the Scottish Uplands'.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “Scottish Wildlife Trust have been outspoken in their call for regulation of deer management but need to offer transparency on how they manage deer on their own reserves.
“An F.O.I in April this year showed that SNH have not held deer cull information for their property at LargieBaan for the last four years.
“Loch Ardinning, another SWT reserve, has shown no cull returns from 2012-2013 onwards. It would be fair for the public to ask how SWT are managing deer on their own holdings, or if they are?
“The number and diversity of declining species producing young successfully on grouse moors managed by gamekeepers, each year, stands test with any land holding or nature reserve in Scotland whilst, at the same time, sustains thousands of full-time wages which keep adults and their children in remote communities.
“These communities are founded and rooted by viable employment, not remote visions.
“With many moors already working on projects to restore peat, plant trees and improve habitat over vast areas of upland Scotland, further regulation will only be counter-productive and hinder rather than help these beneficial partnerships and combined initiatives SWT appear to be promoting.
“It would be better for volunteer charities, and government, to work together with the economic employer industries in the uplands to achieve shared goals."

See the value of shooting report for statistics on employment and conservation: http://www.shootingfacts.co.uk/pdf/The-Value-of-Shooting-2014.pdf
Upland wildfire on un-managed heather. Lake District, June 2016.