Monday, 30 November 2015

CONDOLENCE: A FAITHFUL SGA SERVANT


Everyone at the SGA would like to pass on condolences to the family of Sheila Beattie, our office manager, who sadly passed away on Sunday evening following a brave battle with cancer.
A faithful servant to the SGA, Sheila was highly popular with members and her skill, drive and personality transformed the office.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, the Committee and her colleagues wish to pass on our thoughts and strength to Sheila's family.

Picture shows Sheila (left), Mo Baillie and Hazel Reddington after Sheila collected the GWT Gamebird of the Year award in June at the Scone Game Fair.

Friday, 13 November 2015

SGA COMMENT: HIGH COURT RULING

Reacting to the news that a gamekeeper in England today (Nov 13th) won a landmark legal battle against the refusal of a licence by Natural England to control a small number of buzzards:

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “This is the correct legal outcome but it is a shame we are welcoming a decision which should have been made by the licensing body at the outset, based on the evidence before them. In the meantime, a man has lost his business.

The SGA has always said that we can only have a fair, workable and sensible licensing system if cases are judged solely on merit and not on the basis of who the applicant is. This is a step in the right direction for all fair-minded people who believe access to justice is the right of everyone.”

SGA TAKE THE LEAD ON A MOORLAND STRATEGY FOR SCOTLAND


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has been working with independent ecologist Dr James Fenton on producing a strategy for Moorland in Scotland, something recently identified by SNH as a national priority.
With many of our members working daily in these rich habitats, they are concerned at the loss of heather moorlands which help define upland Scotland as globally important in conservation terms.
Heather moorland is restricted to the uplands of Britain and Ireland and is found in a few areas of mainland Europe the west coast of Norway, making it internationally rare.
Between 1940 and 1980, though, heather cover in Scotland declined from 53 per cent to 29 per cent, largely due to afforestation and changed land use on our moors.
The loss of heather and other types of moorland in the post-war period has been scientifically acknowledged yet policy guidance today remains scant.
This short video explains the thinking behind our strategy and how we hope it will encourage people to evaluate what we have and pinpoint the core areas we cannot afford to lose through the lack of a cohesive approach.
The SGA is set to launch its Moorland Strategy next month.
To play the video, click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cmUrQ_sigA

Thursday, 5 November 2015

SGA URGES RESTRAINT TO MINIMISE PRESSURE ON WOODCOCK


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association is following the recommendation of conservationists in asking for restraint to be shown in the shooting of woodcock this year.
The woodcock is a wading game bird of field and wood which, today, is shot in season at low densities in Scotland and is also prized as a culinary delicacy.
However, the secretive long billed birds, known for their mating or ‘roding' displays, are in decline in the UK overall with the Scottish population faring better than other parts of Britain.
Mindful of the wider conservation picture, Scotland’s gamekeeping body is asking local shoots to show restraint and schedule any shooting for as late in November as possible.
This will allow the resident breeders, which are under pressure, to make their migration to more temperate parts, with the more plentiful numbers of wintering woodcock migrating here from Scandinavia, the Baltics and Russia.
The most recent science by Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and BTO stated there were 55,241 breeding males in the UK in 2013, a fall of 29 per cent from 2003.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “GWCT has done a lot of scientific work regarding these birds and we agree with their guidance that shoots should leave it as late as possible in November before shooting woodcock.
“While it is legal to shoot woodcock from September 1st, the majority of estates offering it don’t start this early in the season.
“However, it is sensible to minimise the pressure on the birds as much as possible to ensure the resident breeders get the best chance for future years and we will be encouraging our members to take these steps going forward.
“Shooters have always been receptive to conservation guidance, as was shown with black grouse, and those we have spoken to are happy to support the later start to help the resident woodcock.”

Although black grouse is still on the quarry list in Scotland, few are shot, with many shooters and estates actively involved in habitat and predator management for black game conservation.



SGA STATEMENT: GENERAL LICENCE RESTRICTIONS

On November 4th 2015, SNH announced general licence restrictions to two areas encompassing four properties.
The SGA has issued the following statement in response to questions.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “The SGA cannot condone wildlife crime and has a clear and consistent policy regarding this.
“As regards this case, it is our understanding that legal discussions are taking place regarding the areas affected and, therefore, it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”