Friday, 29 November 2013

TAIL DOCKING LATEST- AND THANKS

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association would like to thank all those who have signed our tail docking petition, which closes on January 31st 2014, so far. We understand there have been some technical issues to circumvent. We are pleased to say that problems affecting iphones were rectified this morning. Please DO sign and keep encouraging others to do so. If you have a personal social media page, please share it there, too. Twitter, Google Plus, whatever, we need to break through apathy and get this changed for good. Please find the link below. Click on it and where you see the blue letters, click there and complete the petition. The petition closes on January 31st so we have a great chance to show the SNP government that the voice of the working countryside deserves to be listened to, as we were promised. *Due to compatibility issues with certain computer systems, we are aware some people have been unable to sign. We will continue to try to rectify any technical issues. If they prove to be insurmountable, we will include a downloadable form on our website before the closing date, where people can sign and return. We don't want to miss anyone out. Once again, thank you for your great support and let's keep fighting the good fight.

Monday, 25 November 2013

CALENDAR 2015- CAN YOU HELP?

Can you help? Do you have any old photographic 'treasures' lying around or in a box somewhere? If you do, maybe you can assist us. We are looking to re-instate the SGA calendar for 2015 and we'd appreciate your input. We're looking for a collection of images that would make a great composition around the theme of 'gamekeeping through the ages.' It could be ghillie pics on the river back in the 1920s or stalking or shooting in the 70s/80s/90s- and anything in between! If you have a favourite image that would make a great addition to our 2015 calendar, we'd love to hear from you. Contact the office on 01738 587 515 or email info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk If you want to post a photo, post it to' Calendar', The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Arran House, Arran Road, Perth, Scotland PH1 3DZ. We promise to return any photographs safely after use.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

SGA GIVES EVIDENCE ON DEER ISSUES

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg was at Holyrood today, giving evidence to the Rural Affairs Committee on the subject of how deer are managed in Scotland.The SGA, which represents 5300 working gamekeepers, stalkers, wildlife managers and rangers in Scotland believes rural jobs and the viability of fragile communities will be at great risk if local people have their input on deer issues removed.Deer stalking and deer management supports 2520 jobs in Scotland and, at present, local people with an interest in deer in their area are represented on deer management groups.These groups take into account local biodiversity, designated site requirements, jobs, the welfare of the local deer population and community viability.“We were glad to have the chance to make the case for workers in remote communities. There is a real fear that if we lose the balancing input of working people when it comes to deer management, jobs will be lost and local businesses in these communities will suffer," said Mr. Hogg.“There was a lot of contesting of figures regarding how many deer we actually have in Scotland at the present time and SNH will be able to present the accurate picture when they give evidence. “What was interesting was that, in all the talk about the conservation aspects, little was heard- other than from ourselves and the people who work every day in deer and wildlife management- about communities or jobs in these areas.“The argument has been made that a statutory deer management system would create more gamekeeper jobs. I have been a keeper for about 40 years and previously worked for the Forestry Commission and I can tell you, this is not the case.“Full-time stalker jobs in these areas, and the wildlife and habitat management that goes with that, will be removed. In their place, contract stalkers will be flown in to shoot as many deer as is deemed to be required and will then leave the community to deal with the consequences and impacts on their businesses.“There will be nothing like the same level of concern for the socio-economics, the people of that community, or the welfare of the deer, which will simply become a number.“A lot of progress has been made with the voluntary system, particularly when you consider 84 per cent of designated features on designated sites are now in favourable or improving condition - a figure which has been omitted in much of the debate so far.“We believe the current system best balances biodiversity, deer welfare, local jobs and community socio-economics.”

Sunday, 10 November 2013

MOUNTAIN HARES AND GROUSE MOORS: THE REALITY

Please see the following full response from The SGA to the story on mountain hares written by Rob Edwards in today's Sunday Herald. This full response was given to the writer but was not used for 'reasons of space'. Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "In 2006/2007, a study by Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)
 contrasted the number of mountain hares found on intensively managed grouse moors with those on less intensively managed moors and, finally, on estates where there was no grouse interest at all and, therefore, little or no management. "What was found was that mountain hares were found on 64 per cent of the area intensively managed for grouse, 9 per cent on less intensively managed grouse moors and on estates where there were no grouse interest, mountain hares were absent. "The truth, therefore, is that legal removal of abundant predators by gamekeepers benefits mountain hares as well as red grouse and ground nesting birds. Indeed, the inability to produce mountain hares above subsistence level in other areas is the bigger and more worrying story in terms of the long-term success of the species. "There is a population of mountain hares in the highlands which is relatively high compared to anywhere else in Europe but there is no denying that there are issues and The Scottish Gamekeepers Association is aware of these. Tick numbers have increased dramatically in the last ten years and hares carry tick and louping ill virus, helping to perpetuate the disease. Louping ill virus produces high mortality in red grouse and can cause potentially fatal brain swelling in humans called encephalitis. "As there is no ready alternative, suppressing the numbers of mountain hares on grouse moors (where numbers are comparatively much higher) is the only route open to land managers. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association proposed an acaricide treatment experiment for deer, sheep and hares some time ago which was rejected by the then Scottish Government because a special license would have been required to treat wild animals. "Clearly, for the benefit of hares, grouse and humans, more work needs to be done at this level on progressing vaccination and acaricide treatments and it is something The Scottish Gamekeepers Association is progressing with partners and readily supports."