While the SGA is committed to tackling wildlife crime and its root causes, the organisation maintains its initial opposition to this enabling clause, which has been part of the General Licences throughout 2014.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “While the SGA fully supports the tackling of wildlife crime, we have always maintained that this General Licence enabling clause is ill-judged and could have serious unintended consequences.
“Individuals, if found guilty in court, can already have their General Licence removed. This new clause, however, applies to both individuals and land.
“Therefore, a law abiding gamekeeper going about his or her job properly could lose their livelihood and family home on the basis that the estate upon which they are working is ‘suspected’ of a wildlife crime.
If one teacher in a school is suspected of illegality, do all fellow teachers lose the ability to do their jobs, in that school? No, this would not happen.
“This will be open to legal challenge as a breach of rights. Similarly, it gives those opposed to shooting, encouragement. We have already seen incidents where estates are under placed suspicion for illegally set traps when the damage has been caused by others who have sought to interfere with legal estate operations.”