Tuesday, 29 July 2014

SEE YOU ALL AT MOY HIGHLAND SPORTS FAIR


After a highly successful and productive GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone, team SGA heads north this week for the Moy Highland Sports Fair.
The SGA tent will be open all day Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd August.
The show is an ideal opportunity to meet SGA officials and discuss issues affecting our industry and vital work. If you haven't yet emailed or mailed your Wader counts to the SGA office, bring them along and they will be gratefully accepted at the show.
Our Year of the Wader campaign gathers pace and it is important we all do what we can to chart, and thereby address, declining populations. You will see some early map results from our Wader campaign in the SGA tent.
There will be an opportunity to meet Scotland's most endangered species, buy tickets for the SGA Honda ATV raffle, buy 2015 diaries and our highly popular and delicious bacon rolls, venison burgers and venison steaks.
The stand will be packed with information on waders, the changing face of predation, hill tracks and heather management, how public money is spent on environmental measures, our commitment to river ghillies and Scotland's wild fish, and the SGA's stance on wildlife crime.
You can also pick up a special SGA sweepstake card ahead of the shooting seasons which enables you to enjoy your sport and raise funds for the SGA at the same time.




Thursday, 17 July 2014

ALAN TITCHMARSH TO PRESENT AWARD TO 'RURAL HERO' ALEX HOGG.



A Borders gamekeeper has been described as a ‘rural hero’ by TV gardener 
Alan Titchmarsh for his work in championing good countryside management.
Alex Hogg (56), a gamekeeper for 40 years, will be presented with the NGO          Educational Trust’s Bellamy Award by the broadcaster today (friday 19th July) at CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
Presenter and novelist Titchmarsh will deliver the trophy- made from a piece of bog oak many thousands of years old- in person, in his capacity as patron of the NGO.
The honour, awarded annually, formally acknowledges individuals who have excelled in promoting the role of the gamekeeper in sustainable countryside management.
Mr Hogg, son of a shepherd, started out as a keeper in 1974 and also worked for The Forestry Commission in Scotland in his early life.
A highly respected member of his local community, near Peebles, he has 
campaigned tirelessly to promote the gamekeepers’ professional role as Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.
Yorkshireman Titchmarsh, son of a plumber and mill worker, said: Alex Hogg is the real deal. He’s a genuine rural hero, a man who has selflessly and tirelessly championed the gamekeeper’s role in managing the Scottish countryside in a sustainable way, and through challenging times. So much so, I know he’s already a bit of ‘legend’ in keepering circles. He’s a very worthy winner.”
Gamekeepers enhance habitat and legally control abundant predators such as crows and foxes in order to produce a surplus of quarry for sport shooting.
This work benefits other species, with latest PACEC report statistics showing conservation work for shooting in Scotland represents the equivalent of 3900 full-time conservation jobs.
Mr Hogg feels, however, that the industry is poorly understood, with 49 out of 50 people in the UK admitting to not having met a gamekeeper and gaining their views through the media.
“We, at The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, respect everyone’s right to have an opinion on gamekeeping and shooting but the reality is that, without boots on the ground managing predators and looking after things from mountain to sea, we would not have the rich flora and fauna we have in Scotland.
“I have been in this line of work for forty years and the biggest satisfaction I get from the long hours in all weathers is seeing the many and varied species benefit from proper management.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award from the NGO and have it presented by Alan, although it should really be going to all the gamekeepers and their families who give so much to Scotland, from keeping rural communities prosperous to helping all the small unprotected species which are declining, worryingly, on land where there are no such guardians.”

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

MEDAL HEAD STALKING OPPORTUNITY, ABERDEENSHIRE

Dunblade, Huntly, Aberdeenshire is offering quality roe stalking over a week, with a good chance of a medal head, through arrangement with the SGA.
There will be 10 outings in a week in the week beginning 28th July or 4th August- £80 per outing or £800 per week, with a portion of the funds going back to the SGA.
The contact for further information/arrangements is Alan Stuart on 01466 740 227 or (m) 077634 77306.
Take advantage of a great sporting opportunity for a good cause.



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

GAMEKEEPER SPEAKS OF SUFFERING AFTER CASE BROUGHT BY CHARITY


Press Release:

A Perthshire gamekeeper who was put through months of hell after a prosecution pursued by an animal charity has expressed concerns about them being given additional powers. 
For almost 18 months Mike Reddington, who has a wife and daughter, had a criminal case instigated by Scottish SPCA hanging over him for allegedly setting an illegal crow trap on a hillside.
SSPCA officers found a Larsen mate trap with protruding ends of wire mesh on land which had suffered three years of illegal trap damage by public accessing it.
The SSPCA, did not find any animal or bird in the trap , which was not set to catch, but Mr Reddington still found himself facing a court action which could have threatened his familys future.
The trap, incapable of catching a live creature, had been interfered with and safety features installed had been removed.
Traps, approved under licence by SNH, are legitimate legal tools for predator control, helping gamekeepers to protect game and conservation-listed wild birds.
Scottish SPCA have, for years, lobbied against their use and campaign publicly for an outright ban.
Currently, the Scottish government is also considering extending the charitys powers to investigate wildlife crime cases, including cases involving traps and snares.
Mr Reddington, a highly trained licensed trap operator, kept years of records of each trap set, including over three years of photographs of vandalism to traps on his ground.
Fortunately, he was able to document this to Police through detailed records.
Despite this, Scottish SPCA officials gained access to scour the estate and instigated a case against the gamekeeper, claiming he had set a Larsen mate trap which may have injured a wild bird or animal.
The Crown finally dropped the case, brought in November 2012, on the eve of the trial after his lawyers presented evidence to the Procurator Fiscal.
Nevertheless, the gamekeeper could have lost his General Licence to work- and his family house.
Had his employer not footed the costs required to fight the action, Mr Reddingtons life could have been torn apart.
Its frightening what they (Scottish SPCA) were able to do to me and my family. I have never committed a crime in my life and I am not one to speak out. I am doing so is in the hope others dont have to go through the same.
I am fully in favour of Scottish SPCA spending money investigating cases of animal cruelty but there was never an injured bird found and the trap wasnt even set to catch.
“In my opinion, they wanted to pursue this prosecution because, as an organisation, they are generally against the use of snares and these types of traps. In my view, they should have recovered my records of vandalism to the police and noticed that the trap was incapable of catching anything and was not set.
They should have taken into account the fact no bird or animal was injured.
“I respect their right to have a view on traps, but if they are a lobbying body, they should not, in my view, be given powers similar to police. It wouldnt happen in any other walk of life.
Luckily, I was able to verify things with evidence to the Police. If Scottish SPCA are given more powers to go onto people’s estates and pursue cases, without proper Police counter-balance, what chance do people without access to expert representation have?
Mr Reddingtons estate operated as a partner in Operation Countrywatch but has since left, disappointed with other partners such as RSPB, who had full access to the estate, did not speak with them over the case.
I have years of pictures of damage done to estate property including people stripping the fittings right off traps, which was reported to the Police.
If I had been convicted of a wildlife crime, I would have lost my General Licence. That would have stopped me working. I would have lost the family house.
I know how lucky I am that my employer supported me by funding my case through  my lawyer but I fear others wont be so fortunate and I know of more cases like this.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said Mr Reddingtons case was not a one-off.
What Mike and his family went through shouldnt happen and we know other gamekeepers and their families who have faced something similar.  
So much anti-gamekeeper sentiment has been whipped up by conservation and animal welfare groups that it is now the case that a gamekeeper appears in the eyes of the public guilty until proven innocent. That shouldnt happen in a modern democratic society.”

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

GAMEKEEPER'S SPANIEL IS CONSERVATION HERO


A Dumfriesshire gamekeeper’s intelligent dog has emerged as an unlikely canine hero in the drive to conserve Scotland’s native red squirrel.
For years, gamekeeper Richard Thomson has been involved in controlling grey squirrels on a large estate in the south of Scotland, helping the fightback of the reds in the area.
Research undertaken in Anglesey has proven that controlling grey squirrels reduces competition problems for reds whilst reducing the threat of deadly pox virus proven to kill them within a week.
Records on the estate over four years have shown steady removal of abundant greys and the consequent success of red squirrel re-population in the area.
However, this conservation triumph is not down to Richard alone.
He also relies on the detective work of very talented and hard working nine year old black and white Springer Spaniel, Rory, who has developed a keen ‘nose’ for the job.
Rory accompanies Richard on his quad bike to examine the many traps set out in the trees of the estate. He said: “I have around 100 traps spread over nearly 10,000 acres, so I have them logged onto a hand-held GPS. However, these days I never use it as Rory knows where they all are."
When Richard parks the bike, Rory leaps off and runs to locate the trap, usually three or four feet off the ground, and rises up onto his hind legs to check for catch.
Not only has his ability to home in on all the trap locations helped Richard, Rory has also been able to develop a clever signalling system.
By listening to his bark and watching his movements, Richard knows if there is a squirrel in the box and even if it is a grey or a much rarer red.
“In the beginning, Rory would come with me to check the traps and he soon learned to remember where they were and would leap off the bike and go and check them.
“After a while, he would start to bark if there was a grey and we would attend to the trap.
“As the success of the trapping regime grew on the estate, and the red numbers increased, we started to get some reds in the traps, too.
“When this happens Rory is made to sit or get back on the bike while the Red is released. Eventually after watching this a few times he stopped barking when there was a Red in the trap. He had learned that Greys and reds smell different and reacts accordingly.
“It has been really interesting to watch. He’s a good help, especially when the foliage on the trees is dense, and a great companion when I’m out and about doing the work.”
Ian ‘Rusty’ Kerr, a full-time Grey Squirrel Control Officer in the area says the
contribution of volunteers on the ground, like Richard and Rory, have boosted the prospects for native red squirrels.
“There are reds now starting to come back where they haven’t been seen for a long time. We were quite lucky in the area because we managed to get on top of the grey population just before they were really getting established.”
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Gamekeepers have always controlled grey squirrel numbers to allow the reds to survive. They did it as part of their daily work in creating a balance on their ground.
“Today, red squirrel conservation attracts a lot of headlines but it is good to see practical conservationists such as keepers being recognised for what is a long-standing contribution.
“Rory is a credit to Richard’s training; a true working dog and a great servant of the countryside.”