Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year from all at the SGA.


The SGA would like to wish all members and supporters a very happy 2015. We look forward to another busy year, with your support and backing, of representing your interests- wherever this is required- and driving forward many of the key initiatives inaugurated in 2014 such as the new SGA Fishing Group and the Lea MacNally Deer Fund.

Following the success of the 2014 SGA Year of the Wader, we will shortly be announcing the second of our dedicated 'years' where we focus on vitally important issues affecting us all.
We will, however, be asking members once again to count their wading birds, as they did in 2014, so we can continue to build on the knowledge gleaned.

Have a great 2015, from all at the SGA.

Friday, 19 December 2014

SGA MEMBERS, COUNCILLORS AND ESTATES HELP VULNERABLE IN COMMUNITIES THIS CHRISTMAS

Pheasants and other game make delicious, lean and nutritious festive dishes.

Gamekeepers, estates, local councillors, charities and volunteers in Aberdeenshire are gearing up to supply fresh game to vulnerable people in their local community this Christmas.
Rural poverty is often poorly understood and its affects can hit hardest during the long winter months when weather may also serve to isolate people from their neighbours.
Now, thanks to groundwork from Councillor Geva Blackett of Braemar, a community team will work with the Home-Start families charity and social services to supply fresh game and fuel to those who may benefit from support over the festive season.
The idea crystallised from social media conversations between members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association who recognised the role gameestates could potentially play in making the festive season easier.
Councillor Linda Clark of Banchory has also used her personal networks to ensure the provisions can be supplied and used most effectively. 
One estate, Tillypronie, is to supply pheasants, with Balmoral donating logs and vegetables. Scottish Gamekeepers Association member Audrey Dykes has also arranged for her shooting syndicate to offer venison.
The game will be freshly laddered and delivered to meet food safety standards.
Game recipes, with clear cooking instructions, will also be handed out, in case recipients are unaccustomed to working with game in the kitchen.
Councillor Blackett said: “It may not always be so high profile but rural poverty is an issue of concern. People may be sitting at the top of remote glens, for example, and folk may be unaware about their concerns or what is going on with them.
“Some may be finding it hard to heat their houses in winter, let alone have the means to cook and eat good quality fresh food.
“It has been great working with people in the local area to see what can be done to help, and bringing it all together.
“It would be nice to think it could maybe make a small difference to an individual or a family in the festive season.”
Councillor Linda Clark praised the community-mindedness of all who have come together to help out, from the idea to the conception stage.
“Having worked myself in the voluntary services, I know there are financially vulnerable people who will find things tougher in winter. I commend everyone involved because this is practicality in action at community level.
“We have also had people volunteering to assist with the deliveries. Whether recipients take up the offer is, of course, up to them. Hopefully though, if they do, it might mean they can spend the money they have on something else. As we know, Christmas can be an expensive time for all of us.”

Councillor Geva Blackett visiting a local Foodbank. Geva pulled the scheme together after listening to SGA members' conversations on social media.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Ronald Rose Senior

All members of the SGA family are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ronald Rose, senior, of Eskdalemuir.
A hugely respected stalker, wildlife manager and author, Ronald was an SGA man to the core and was a central figure in the organisation; being handed a lifetime membership in honour of his contribution.
Ronnie passed away at home, with his family, and his funeral will take place this Thursday (18th December) at Eskdalemuir Church at 11am.
Everyone at the SGA sends thoughts, regards and strength to Ronnie's family at this time, while recalling the many memorable times spent in his company.
"Ronnie senior was a big part of the SGA, a wonderful man and an inspiration to many. He was a great help to me in my career, personally, and what he did for the SGA will always be remembered," said SGA Chairman, Alex Hogg.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

SGA REACTION TO GEORGE MUTCH CASE

Speaking following the trial and conviction of gamekeeper George Mutch, a Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said:
“Mr Mutch’s membership of the SGA has been in suspension for some time, until the outcome of the case was known. Now that it is, he will no longer be a member of the SGA.
This is the 5th time in 3 years the SGA has suspended memberships after individuals were proven in court to have committed a wildlife crime.
This is consistent with the SGA’s clear stance that we will not condone anyone taking the law into their own hands.”


“On the separate, theoretical, issue of the use of covert video evidence, it is clear to us that it should not be acceptable for individuals from one particular profession to be under surveillance in their place of work, without their knowledge, and to have their right to liberty and privacy from such encroachment, removed. 
If this is to be the direction of travel, it is not right for Scottish Government to deny people whose livelihoods come under pressure due to the activity of certain species or animals, recourse to a legal solution to solve that conflict. 
Currently, there are no legal or scientific means by which people can protect their investments or jobs in situations exacerbated by conflicts with species. Scottish Government has never granted anyone from the game industry a licence to protect investments, which they have the power to do, although it does grant licences routinely to other industries. This, in our view, is a 
barrier to justice and does nothing to prevent wildlife crime.
In a society supposedly enlightened when it comes to tackling this issue, we believe this is untenable and we will be seeking talks with Scottish Government so that this anomaly is finally closed, removing once and for all the rationale for people to commit wildlife crime.”




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

SGA RESPONDS TO CAIRNGORMS CAPERCAILLIE ACTION PLAN

Responding to Cairngorms Nature Project: Capercaillie in the frame for conservation.

A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “It must be questioned how much of a priority Capercaillie survival is, beyond sound-bites, if plans to conserve it make no mention of predator impact.
“The inability of conservationists to grasp the nettle on this is like a group of people trying to rescue their dinner while the house is on fire.
“Millions have been spent in removing deer fences and improving forest habitat, yet the decline of Capercaillie continues.
“Our understanding, from speaking to workers on the ground is that the numbers may be as low as 400.
“On 20 video monitored nests in Abernethy Forest, 65 per cent of nests were found to be predated, 57 per cent of those by pine marten.
“Given this science within the core area, and the rise in number of pine marten, it is surely common sense to proceed with a trial to translocate pine marten from a small core area to monitor the affects of, and better understand, such predation.
“If it is found pine marten have no affect on Capercaillie, then efforts can be targeted elsewhere or in tandem with what is going on, anyway.
“Recent poorly informed press reports inaccurately interpreted such a conservation approach as ‘grouse moors wanting to wipe out Pine Marten’. 
“What the report seemed ignorant of is that grouse reside in large moorland areas of the uplands while pine marten roam over large woodland areas. Similarly, this is a small, targeted scientific trial in a key Capercaillie stronghold.
“Attempts by groups opposing such a trial to blacken a legitimate conservation attempt should not be allowed to detract from the fact that avoiding a second extinction requires more than is presently being done.”

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CAPERCAILLIE AUCTION CLOSES THIS FRIDAY

Our one-off online Auction of a rare Capercaillie by award-winning Colin Scott of Border Taxidermy Studios will close on Friday (12th December).
The auction for a Black Cock and Red Grouse, also by Colin Scott, will also close on the same day.
Late bids will be considered right up to the deadline but, if interested, you will have to be (very) quick.

All proceeds go towards SGA funds. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

NEW CHILDREN'S BOOK LAUNCHED TODAY: MEET GAMEKEEPER STAG MUNRO


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg (posing as Stag Munro) looks on as author Katrina Candy reads the new book to an interested fox, surrounded by stalker Sandy Lean and 'Biscuits' the Spaniel plus the book's illustrator, Val Barr.

A NEW childrens book was launched this morning at House of Bruar by two leading wildlife organisations which aim to educate children about the countryside and the wildlife which inhabits it.

Stag Munros Golden Encounter is written by Perthshire author Katrina Candy and is a stirring tale of wildlife survival in the Scottish Highlands.

The book has been published to celebrate the culmination of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association Year of the Wader 2014 and cleverly weaves conservation messages through an exciting tale which follows the adventures of head keeper Stag Munro and his loveable spaniel, Biscuits. The SGA Charitable Trust and charity the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust will both benefit from sales of the book which has been beautifully illustrated by artist Val Barr.

Pupils from Blair Atholl Primary School enjoyed the first reading of the book and asked SGA Chairman Alex Hogg (posing as Stag Munro) a number of questions about wildlife and countryside management.

The SGA Chairman was delighted that the story had been so well received:“Katrina and Val have done a great job. The conservation benefits of game management are often poorly understood so this is a fun and accessible way for children to learn more. The book is also a nice way for us to end the Year of the Wader 2014, our biggest ever conservation project. If there is to be a legacy from that, then what better one than for future generations to understand a little more about how responsible management by gamekeepers like Stag Munro helps declining Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover.”

GWCT Director Scotland, Adam Smith said:“Stag Munro is a fantastic character created by Katrina and is an excellent vehicle to gently explain aspects of wildlife conservation to the younger reader. As the GWCTs head of PR and education, Katrina is very dedicated to educating our future countryside stewards and we hope that many people, old and young, will love the book.”

Stag Munros Golden Encounter follows on from Katrinas first book, Captain Partridge and the Fire People. Both titles are now on sale at House of Bruar, from Amazon and also from the SGA website and office. To order a copy,  priced £6.99 (plus postage and packaging), call 01738 587 515 *Also an ideal Xmas present or stocking filler.

END.



Friday, 5 December 2014

WINNER OF 2014 SGA HONDA ATV ANNOUNCED






Following a draw in the SGA office this morning (Friday 5th December), we are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2014 SGA Honda ATV is...(cue very long and highly irritating pause normally associated with high ratings tv talent shows)... Mr James Taylor of Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.
The draw was made by staff member, Gordon Kippen, and a delighted Mr Taylor was informed of his win by telephone shortly afterwards.
The SGA would like to thank everyone who purchased a ticket for this year's ATV raffle. Without such support, the organisation could not do all it does to represent its members. We appreciate the generosity, support and continued commitment.
We would also like to pass on our very best wishes to Mr Taylor and his family and congratulate him on his win.
We trust that the ATV, kindly supplied by Honda UK and long-standing supporter, JMT Manufacturing Ltd in Forth, Lanark, will be used well over the coming months.


SGA FISHING GROUP RESPONDS TO SALMON: LICENCE TO KILL CONSULTATION

Responding to the Scottish Government’s announcement of a consultation on a kill licence and tagging system for wild salmon:

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association Fishing Group will be taking an active part in the forthcoming consultation and any subsequent national conversation on the subject.
The detail of how the scheme will operate and be policed, and the use of the best science available to decide the number of fish which can be caught, will be crucial to successful application.
However, the SGA Fishing Group, which numbers ghillies, boatmen, river workers and anglers, agrees with the principle being put forward in the consultation.

A Spokesman for the SGA Fishing Group said: “The SGA Fishing Group urged Scottish Government to introduce a tagging scheme to balance conservation with the need to maintain a viable sporting product and the jobs, economic and tourism benefits derived from that.
“When salmon stocks are low in rivers, you cannot have a situation where anglers are voluntarily practicing responsible conservation through catch- and-release while netting operations are not bound by any similar conservation restriction.
“Not only does that have a negative affect on salmon conservation when there are so many threats already facing wild fish, it also has an effect on anglers who are doing the right thing but are left with little fish to catch and all the knock-on detrimental impacts of that.
“This consultation is an opportunity to create a better balance between the various fishing interests and the need to conserve low stocks of a fish already protected under the habitats directive.
“By binding rod anglers and netsmen to the same restrictions, it could restore some badly needed equity and may provide a platform to move forward and address the many issues facing our rivers and wild fish.”

For link to Scottish Government announcement, see: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Stronger-control-on-killing-wild-salmon-12fb.aspx

Thursday, 4 December 2014

MEMBERS PLEASE RESPOND: LAND REFORM AND GUN LICENCE FEES

The SGA is urging all members, supporters and those with views on both land reform proposals and gun licence fee increases to answer two vital consultations, as individuals.
Land reform proposals contain within them, we feel, certain moves which will seriously undermine community fabric in remote areas, will lead to unemployment of the rural working and will see further control, which should remain in the hands of local people, taken into central control.
As an organisation, we do not disagree with reform per se and believe land, both urban and rural, should be managed properly as this provides a multitude of benefits for people, community and wildlife.
However, we do not believe in working folk being sacrificed as a result of an aspiration which could discourage investment and place a heavy burden on public finance.
We strongly advise that, if you have any views on this, you should make them clear to Scottish Government by answering the official consultation:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/12/9659

The SGA will be making a group presentation but the will of the 'majority' will play a significant part in deciding future direction. You may be small in number but your experience and knowledge is vital. The time to speak up is now. We all have a part to play if we value rural employment for hard working people and their families.

The UK Government is also consulting on proposed increases in gun licence fees. Again, we strongly urge you to respond. The SGA believes a rise in line with inflation, which is being proposed, is sensible and will be recommending this course of action be adopted. If it is, it will be the first rise in 13 years. Encouragingly, the shooting community played a central role in the consultation process. See the consultation here. Please note, this closes at the end of the present month (December):





Wednesday, 3 December 2014

SGA RESPONSE TO LAND REFORM CONSULTATION ANNOUNCEMENT

Responding to the announcement that the Scottish Government is to consult on land reform, 

A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “The Scottish Gamekeepers Association will be making a detailed submission to the consultation and will also be seeking a meeting with the First Minister due to our concerns for rural employment for working people and their families.
We feel very strongly that creating a fairer or more socially just country does not mean taking away lifeline rural employment which is a very real danger if the drive to change ownership patterns turns into discouragement of inward investment.
If present owners decide conditions in Scotland are no longer favourable, and take their investments elsewhere, the gamekeepers’ jobs go, the ghillie, the boatman, the tractor man, the forester, the various contractors, the estate staff and so on, not to mention the affect on businesses and the fabric of the community. That is not easy employment to replace in a small rural area which may not have the advantage of scale.
Of course, we believe those who manage land should do so in the public interest and we believe the well managed estates in Scotland will be able to quantify this very well.
However, greater transparency has to work both ways and we hope public bodies and large land owning charities tasked with similar public interest responsibilities are placed under the same scrutiny as private owners.”