Wednesday, 16 August 2017

OFFICE CLOSURE- TECHNICAL PROBLEMS (NOW FIXED)

We are pleased to say that, following successful resolution of our technical problems regarding connectivity in the SGA office, we are now back up and running.
The office will be open from 9am-1pm today and tomorrow and will be back to full service next week. Thank you for your patience as this matter was resolved.



Friday, 4 August 2017

WINNER OF 2017 RONNIE ROSE MEMORIAL TROPHY ANNOUNCED


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg today announced the winner of the 2017 Ronnie Rose Memorial Trophy as David Howarth. See press release below.

A Speysider whose quarter century of research into reducing diseases which impact on Scotland’s iconic moorland bird, the red grouse, has landed a major award for his work.
David Howarth (64) ran a guesthouse before an early interest in the countryside morphed into a career, monitoring the impacts of parasites on the breeding success of the native bird in the mountains close to his Kingussie home.
During 25 years at Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, David – who started with no scientific qualification- gained respect for his research into how gut worms and tick affect grouse breeding.
Working with local gamekeepers, his hours spent on the high tops of the Cairngorms National Park in all weathers helped inform new management approaches to reducing the parasites which cause cyclical fluctuations in red grouse populations.
Today (Friday) his research work was recognised with him receiving the Ronnie Rose Memorial Trophy for Conservation and Education, presented by Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.
The award, inaugurated by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association in honour of late conservationist, forester and author, Ronnie Rose MBE, is for lasting contributions benefitting Scotland’s land and rivers.
“It is a real honour to receive this award,” said David. “My work, particularly in the last 20 years, focused on diseases which were having a deleterious affect on grouse populations. 
“If you manage to reduce the disease burdens, naturally you get greater productivity. This benefits the grouse as a bird. On a local level, it also benefits the nearby sporting estates which helps, in turn, to finance the continued management of the moorlands in the area. This management benefits other species, as well as having wider economic benefits.
“When my wife and I moved here in 1990, the estate behind us employed 2 gamekeepers, now there are 6. When I gave talks with the Trust, I always tried to explain to people that the heather hills people love are not just there, naturally or by accident. It is the gamekeepers out there, 
largely unseen, managing the heather and keeping a lid on the predators that makes it look the way it is. It is important that message is not lost in future.”
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said the work of researchers like David had helped to create stability and employment in rural communities and encouraged people to invest in the countryside.
“Like farmers and other land managers, grouse estates need a level of confidence that the area they are working in is sustainable.
“The work of people like David in helping us understand how populations fluctuate with disease, and how to minimise that where possible, has led to employment for gamekeepers and other land managers such as shepherds, who will manage hill sheep in order to reduce tick burdens. 
“Although not a scientist by training, David established very good relations with practical people and his work makes him highly deserving of this award.”


Friday, 28 July 2017

RONNIE ROSE AWARD SET FOR MOY HIGHLAND FIELD SPORTS FAIR


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association will be awarding the Ronnie Rose Memorial Trophy for conservation and education for the third time at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair next Friday (August 4th 2017).
Members and supporters hoping to see the presentation of the prestigious honour, inaugurated in memory of the late Ronnie Rose MBE, should arrive at the SGA stand just before 11am.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg will announce the winner before handing over to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP to present the silverware to this year's lucky winner.
Also in the stand at Moy over the two days will be the team from CIC Trophy Measuring who proved as popular as ever at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone.
There will be venison burgers and steaks available as well as delicious home baking and tickets for the 2017 Polaris ATV raffle.
Team SGA look forward very much to welcoming you all at the show.



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Incident: Monadhliaths.

The SGA has a strict policy and condemns wildlife crime. Should any member be convicted of such a crime they will be removed from the membership. The SGA advocates legal solutions as the only means to solve species conflicts. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

SGA RESPONDS TO MOVES TO STRENGTHEN DEER MANAGEMENT IN SCOTLAND

GAMEKEEPERS STATEMENT ON STRENGTHENING DEER MANAGEMENT
Responding to measures announced today (June 29) by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP for strengthening deer management in Scotland, Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Rushing to new powers when existing ones had never been tested would have been problematic, especially when SNH were granted fresh powers last year under Land Reform legislation.
“This included the ability to levy fines of up to £40 000 for those failing to comply with deer control schemes. The measures announced today focus on using and enforcing existing legislation, which is, in our view, a logical approach.
“Challenges remain in deer management and today’s announcement targets areas where more effort and different approaches are required, such as in lowland Scotland and in urban fringes where there is a growing roe deer population.
“However, it also recognises that improvements have been made in the deer sector in the last few years and compromising that progress now would not be in the longer term interest.
“Our skilled deer managers look forward to working with Scottish Government on the way forward.”
Ends.
Today's Announcement by Roseanna Cunningham (below).

SCOTTISH GAME FAIR PROGRAMME CONFIRMED


Team SGA will be setting up at the 29th GWCT Scottish Game Fair this afternoon, ahead of the the opening day tomorrow (Friday).
And don’t worry, the MET office is telling us that the rain will stop on Friday, that Saturday is to be bathed in summer sunshine and that Sunday may be breezy but fair.
The SGA can now confirm that the official presentation for the SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year award will take place tomorrow (Fri) at the SGA tent at 11am.
Edward Mountain MSP will make the presentation. Please come along and show your support for the next generation of skilled land managers.
At 1.30pm tomorrow we will also be hosting members of SNH’s Species Licensing team for a one hour drop-in session.
The SNH team will be on hand to answer any questions about species licensing, and their role in the department.
Please take the time to come along and ask any questions you have.
Over the three days, the SGA will be hosting acclaimed Braemar-based photographer Steven Rennie, whose images of rural land and wildlife, as well as the people who live and work in these places, have captivated so many people.
Game and Wildlife lecturers from North Highland College UHI will be on hand to seek to people about courses and careers in the game sector and we will once again have the team from CIC trophy measuring who can evaluate sporting trophies to international standard.
New SGA calendars and diaries will be available as well as tickets for the 2017 Polaris Sportsman 570 and the Hambaur Star Trailer, sponsored by Judge’s Choice Petfood Ltd to mark the 20th Anniversary of the SGA.
We’ll see you all there. 

For more details about the Fair, see: http://www.scottishfair.com


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Tail Shortening for Working Dogs Now In Force – Update

We are delighted to announce that the new legislation takes affect from today 28th June 2017.

Monday, 26 June 2017

SCONE GAME FAIR: WHAT'S ON.


The SGA is looking forward to welcoming members and supporters this weekend to the 29th GWCT Scottish Game Fair in the grounds of Scone Palace.
On Friday morning (time tbc), Edward Mountain MSP will present the 2017 SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year award and it would be great to see as many people as possible in the tent for the announcement.
The prize is the most sought after award for an early years professional working on land or river in Scotland and the award committee will be picking from a very strong short-list of 3 final candidates.
We will update later this week on the exact time of the Young Gamekeeper award announcement.
Also on the Friday, at 1.30pm for a one-hour drop-in session, members of SNH’s Species Licensing team will be on hand to answer members’ questions regarding species licensing in Scotland as the SGA builds on its key message that legal solutions are the way to solve species conflicts.
If you have questions regarding the Wildlife and Countryside Act and legal options, please speak to the SNH team.
Over the three days, the SGA will be hosting acclaimed Braemar-based photographer Steven Rennie, whose images of rural land and wildlife, as well as the people who live and work in these places, have captivated so many people.
Game and Wildlife lecturers from North Highland College UHI will be on hand to seek to people about courses and careers in the game sector and we will once again have the team from CIC trophy measuring who can evaluate sporting trophies to international standard.
New SGA calendars and diaries will be available as well as tickets for the 2017 Polaris Sportsman 570 and the Hambaur Star Trailer, sponsored by Judge’s Choice Petfood Ltd to mark the 20th Anniversary of the SGA.
We’ll see you all there. 

For more details about the Fair, see: http://www.scottishfair.com




Rural Watch Scotland launched at Royal Highland Show

On Friday at the Royal Highland Show, Ingliston the partnership of Police Scotland, NFU Scotland and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland will launch their Rural Watch Scotland initiative.

'Rural Watch Scotland' is an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch concept and a product of the *Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) designed specifically for the rural communities of Scotland and aims to bring all the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch to rural communities irrespective of location, size or demographics.

Rural Watch Scotland launch The objectives of Rural Watch Scotland are to:
•Reduce crime and the fear of crime by providing the right information, to the right people, at the right time,
•Encourage people to think about safety and security for themselves, their neighbours and their community,
•Improve community cohesion and well-being,
•Work in partnership with national and local service providers to develop more resilient communities that are better prepared against threats, intentional or unintentional, such as crime or extreme weather.

In meeting these objectives effective communication between partners and consistent engagement with rural communities is vital. Neighbourhood ALERT, a targeted, two way messaging system specifically designed in the UK for the purposes of community engagement will play a central role in providing consistent, locally relevant and inclusive communication with people living and working within a rural setting. 

The last six months has seen the establishment of a local Neighbourhood ALERT administrator network across all areas of Police Scotland.

Rural Watch Scotland encourages people to sign up to receive alerts and advice by email, text or voicemail from local police officers and other approved information providers. Keeping communities informed about crime and other threats in their areas can help prevent crime, keep communities and residents safe, and the response to these alerts can help catch criminals or allow communities to better prepare to deal with local issues.

To sign up to receive local ALERTS users simply click the green JOIN button on the Rural Watch Website – www.ruralwatchscotland.co.uk. Experience provides that people who sign up to Rural Watch Scotland and thereafter apply the advice they receive will be less likely to be a victim of crime and be better prepared for other potential harm.

Signing up for local ALERTS does not require anyone to join or start up a formal Rural Watch scheme, however the benefits of joining or establishing such a local community group are always available.

Superintendent Gavin Robertson, who chairs the SPARC Group said: “The availability of a national Rural Watch Alert platform has been one of the main aims of SPARC since it was formed in 2015. I am pleased to see the service come to fruition. 

"I am confident that this direct messaging system will benefit rural communities and I urge farmers, foresters, rural businesses and residents as well as those who regularly visit the countryside for leisure activities to sign up to receive relevant information about rural crime in their area. I am grateful for the funding from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, NFU Scotland and Police Scotland to bring a consistent messaging service to all rural communities across the country.”

Jamie Smart, NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Policy Committee Chairman, commented: “NFU Scotland has been working closely as part of the SPARC group to reduce rural crime in all its forms, and we are starting to see some real benefits from this partnership.”

“This new platform is designed to allow faster communications, alerting those in the rural communities of problems or potential problems in their own area. This service is free, can be tailored to your own requirements and only takes minutes to register.”

“We would urge all of our members to register their details to stay informed of all of the latest developments in their area.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin, Safer Communities, Police Scotland said, “We are delighted that the Rural Watch Alert messaging system is now available across Scotland. Rural Watch messaging system is an excellent facility to get relevant information to rural residents about crime and incidents in their local area and I am grateful for the support given by Neighbourhood Watch Scotland in getting us to this point”

Alan Dobie, Chair of the Neighbourhood Watch Scotland Board said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to bring the benefits of strong, resilient and well connected communities to all the rural areas in Scotland”.

*The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) is a multi-agency partnership that includes Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Scottish Government, NFU Mutual, Crimestoppers, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland.

Contact Details


Call 101 for non-emergencies and general enquiries, in an emergency call 999. If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Armadale tracking project - Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from July 2017 and would like your help.


Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from July 2017 and would like your help.

If you catch a salmon with a tag (as shown in the attached photograph) near the dorsal
fin, then please remove it by cutting through the plastic cord to remove the acoustic tag
(black cylinder). Please note that the colour of the cord may vary from yellow.



Please send the acoustic tag, also with a note of day and location of capture, to:

Armadale Tracking,
Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory,
Faskally,
Pitlochry,
PH16 5LB

Please enclose your name, postal and email (if applicable) address and we will send
you £20 in reward.

If you have any other information about the fish (eg a photo, length, sex) then please
include it when you send in the tag. However, please do not delay the safe return of the
fish to the water to obtain any such information.

With thanks



The Armadale Tracking Team

Thursday, 22 June 2017

TAIL SHORTENING FOR WORKING DOGS APPROVED: CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg made the following announcement to the media immediately after a vote in the Scottish Parliament on 21st June 2017 which saw tail shortening for two breeds of working dogs approved.

“This is recompense for all working Spaniels and HPRs who have had to endure 10 years of painful injuries. The ban on tail docking in 2007 was made with good intentions but failed to account for working dogs, whose jobs are very specific. The welfare of these animals was compromised by the legislation and Scottish Government deserve immense credit for taking a progressive, evidence-based step to rectify that today.
“Some have conflated tail shortening with full tail docking, which leaves dogs with only a stump. This is the opposite. It is a quick, preventative procedure protecting the animal over its whole working life, leaving it with an expressive, waggy tail.
“Failure to act, when Glasgow University research showed that over 1 in 2 Spaniels, without shortened tails, were injured in a single season, would have been to turn a blind eye to suffering.
The Scottish Government, rural vets who have experienced the welfare issues first hand, and all other MSPs who have supported working dogs, can be assured that what they have done is the right thing."
Ends.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

TRAINING SUPPORT FOR LAND MANAGERS


Land based workers in the Cairngorms National Park are being encouraged to apply to the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) for funding towards training courses.
This year’s Land Management Training & Knowledge Exchange Programme is open for applications from estate staff, farmers, foresters and other people who work the land in the National Park.

Up to 30 per cent of the cost of eligible short courses – such as ATV driving, pesticide spraying, chainsaw use – is available and reasonable travel costs can also be included in the claim.

Penny Lawson, one the CNPA’s Land Management Officers said: “Many rural businesses in and around the Cairngorms National Park regularly take advantage of the Training & Knowledge Exchange Programme when training needs come up but the CNPA is keen to see a wider range of land-based organisations of any size, or even individuals, coming forward to access this support.

“As well as partially funding training arranged by the businesses themselves, we can also organise bespoke courses, training seminars and knowledge exchange events on a wide variety of topics. We know that we need well trained land managers to help us deliver the aims of the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan so we are keen to hear from land managers what they would like and need with regards to training and information events.”


For more information please visit the CNPA website: http://cairngorms.co.uk/park-authority/training-support/rural-skills-training-2/ or contact Penny Lawson via email: pennylawson@cairngorms.co.uk or tel: 01479 873535.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

TAIL SHORTENING FOR WORKING DOGS CLEARS COMMITTEE STAGE


The SGA is pleased to announce to members that the exemption to the Animal Welfare legislation which could see tail shortening of working Spaniels and HPRs, by up to one third, permitted in Scotland, for welfare reasons, has been approved at today's session of the ECCLR Committee.
The motion by Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham passed by 7 votes to 3 with no abstentions following the morning debate.
This represents a significant step on a long journey towards better protection for working animals in Scotland and the SGA would like to remind all members to continue to make the calm, principled case for this exemption to proceed and provide benefit.
For this to become law, it must still be approved by the House so more work remains to be done and the SGA will continue to make the case, with your help and the assistance of supportive rural vets, who have provided very useful and practical evidence.
Keep working towards the goal so working dogs no longer have to suffer.

Monday, 12 June 2017

FINAL FIVE DAYS TO NOMINATE YOUNG GAMEKEEPER OF THE YEAR


The SGA would like to thank all those who, so far, have nominated candidates for the SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year award, 2017.
Many excellent entries have been received but there is still time to nominate that female or male you believe truly has what it takes.
Nominations will close this Friday, with informal interviews of shortlisted candidates taking place the week after.
The official announcement of the winner will be made at the SGA stand at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair in the grounds of Scone Palace on Friday June 30th, where the award will be presented by Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain, who is also convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at Holyrood.

We look forward to seeing you all at Scone. Further details of the award announcement will be posted, here. Please join us for the award ceremony and to enjoy the traditional SGA hospitality.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

SGA STATEMENT: SNH SAT TAGGED EAGLE REPORT

Statement (in full, as given to media early today): SNH Report into missing tagged eagles.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “Losing, on average, 4 tagged eagles per year across Scotland is totally unacceptable. The illegal killing of any eagle is condemned wholeheartedly by the SGA and all law abiding gamekeepers.
“Although this study assimilates 12 years of evidence and makes difficult reading, it does acknowledge recent improvements in some grouse moor areas previously associated with suspected persecution.
“This change has contributed to the overall betterment of the golden eagle’s conservation status, as recently reported. 
“That said, problems clearly still exist in some hotspot areas and, in our view, this can only be tackled by all partners having access to the same telemetry data in order to arrive at shared and targeted solutions.
“If this had been happening over the past decade, there is a high likelihood these problems could have been tackled satisfactorily before now.
“The SGA does not believe the report adequately tackles the threat wind farms pose to raptor species as there is a significant amount of published data from other countries which show a negative correlation between bird survival and turbine strike.
“However, that is not an attempt in any way to detract from the report’s findings.”

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

SGA MAGAZINE DELAY

Dear members, please be advised that the Summer edition of Scottish Gamekeeper is currently running slightly behind schedule for delivery due to unprecedented workload issues.

We fully expect some of the backlog to clear by the middle of next week and members should expect their magazines to be hitting doorsteps towards the end of June.

We apologise for the delay of your favourite reading material but can promise, as ever, exciting news, features and analysis in your 'eagerly awaited' Summer issue.

Yours. The Editor, Scottish Gamekeeper.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

GAMEBIRD LICENSING IN SCOTLAND


Please find (below) a message to all SGA members and those who have contacted us following the decision of the ECCLR Committee (May 23rd) to write to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham recommending further exploration, with stakeholders, of a licensing system for ‘intensive’ grouse management systems in Scotland.


We respect the vote of the ECCLR Committee and will continue to work constructively with Scottish Government.

However, as a representative body, we take our responsibilities to our law abiding gamekeeping members- who are in the overwhelming majority- seriously, and will defend their right to go about lawful work free of fear of having their livelihoods threatened by those who will be emboldened by the potential of seeing licences revoked. 

The SGA will not defend wrongdoing, and has taken action when its position on wildlife crime has been breached. But we also believe honest working people deserve to have their rights to 

employment protected. Any decision which could ultimately see a business - in any field - ended, with resultant loss of employment, ought to be taken on the appropriate, substantive standard of proof rather than on the basis of suspicion. We view this as a fundamental right.

Friday, 19 May 2017

PLEASE ANSWER CALL FOR FURTHER RATIONALE FOR TAIL SHORTENING OF WORKING DOGS


The SGA is asking all members and owners of working dogs to respond to ECCLR Committee's call for additional rationale for introducing an exemption to allow vets to shorten the tails of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers by up to a third, in the first few days of a pup's life, in order to protect the dog from greater harm in later life.

Evidence is being sought, up until noon on 1st June 2017. The requirements are to be found here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/104836.aspx

The notice asks, specifically: The Committee is interested in receiving views on the specific provisions of the draft Regulations that provide any additional rationale on whether such an exemption for tail docking of working dogs should be permitted.

If your working dogs have experienced painful tail injury whilst working, as as result of the ban on tail shortening (see image above), please give your accounts to the Committee or if you have other experience of this issue, please take the opportunity to make your voice heard.






Tuesday, 16 May 2017

FUR & FEATHER DON’T ALWAYS GO TOGETHER!

Our much-loved, four-legged furry friends give us endless amounts of joy and while out walking our dogs, it’s an added bonus to our daily activity if we see some great wildlife.
However, fur and feather don’t always mix! At this time of year, our woodlands, moorlands and farmland areas are full of ground nesting birds – species such as capercaillie, grouse, lapwings, curlews and hen harriers to name a few. These birds don’t nest up trees; they prefer the ground and are therefore so much more vulnerable to predation and disturbance.
The breeding season is now well underway – between early March and the end of July – so to protect our wildlife, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is asking dog walkers to keep canines under very close control or preferably on a lead.

Andy Ford, Cairngorms Nature Manager said: “When disturbed, birds may be prevented from settling, or if already nesting they will fly away from their nests, neglecting their eggs or chicks. Ground nesting birds are extremely vulnerable, and with some very rare species in the Cairngorms National Park, we need to do all we can to help them. Furthermore it is a criminal offence to disturb the nests of rare birds whether intentionally or not. This also includes disturbance caused by your dog.”

The CNPA’s advice is – wherever possible – stick to tracks or paths. If you know or suspect a nest is close by, try your best to avoid it and give a wide berth to young birds or to adult birds that seem to be distressed. There are many local walks in the Park where it may be suitable to have your dog off a lead such as along the Speyside or Deeside Way, Ellan Woods in Carr-Bridge or around Craigendarroch at Ballater.

The CNPA’s Recreation and Access Manager, David Clyne commented: “Dog walking is a great way to keep active and we want to encourage more people to walk or take part in some form of physical activity daily in the National Park for peoples’ health and wellbeing. Everyone has the same access rights whether they have a dog or not, what the Scottish Outdoor Access Code states, is that we have to exercise those rights responsibly. Yes go ahead and walk the dog but please make sure that at this time of year particularly, dogs and nesting birds are kept apart.”

For more information please visit the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/Practical-guide/public/dog-walking

GET ENTRIES IN NOW FOR YOUNG GAMEKEEPER OF THE YEAR AND RONNIE ROSE AWARD 2017

Garry MacLennan receiving last year's Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award from Fergus Ewing MSP on behalf of winner Callum Low at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone.
The SGA is calling on all senior gamekeepers, college lecturers and employers to nominate candidates for the 2017 Young Gamekeeper of the Year award, by June 16th 2017.
Each year the organisation recognises an exemplary youngster in their chosen field of management on hill, river, low ground or forest. The candidate can be on placement or in early years employment and must be nominated to be considered for the award, one of the most prestigious in the sphere of game and wildlife management in Scotland.
Please send your nominations to info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk with your candidate's name, why you feel they are deserving of the award and your own contact details.
We are also seeking nominations for the 2017 Ronnie Rose Award, by July 21st 2017. 
The Ronnie Rose Award is for individuals nominated by peers for long service and lasting contributions to conservation or education in the undertaking of game management duties. 
All nominations should be sent to the above email address, with your candidate's name, why you feel they are deserving of the award and your own contact details.

Proud winner Sandy Reid with the Ronnie Rose Award at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair in 2016.



HEN HARRIER, LEADHILLS.

In response to a story in a local newspaper that a Hen Harrier had been shot in Leadhills, a Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "We ask all members or anyone else who knows anything about this case to give their full cooperation to Police Scotland. Such crimes are unacceptable and we condemn them unequivocally."


Friday, 12 May 2017

STATEMENT: RSPB VIDEO CASE

A statement was made by RSPB Scotland this morning (May 12th) regarding the handling of a legal case by the Crown Office.

Please see, here, a SGA statement regarding this case.

A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "The SGA has no membership interest in this case and has an unequivocal approach to wildlife crime. Our members are made acutely aware of what is required in setting traps. Those who fail to comply should consider the affects this has on the reputation of others in the profession.
Judgements on what is admissible or not in terms of deploying video surveillance are judgements to be made by independent law officers, qualified to make them, not membership organisations like ourselves.”

Friday, 5 May 2017

SGA STATEMENT: RSPB HEN HARRIER VIDEO

Please find below a response from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association regarding a story distributed this morning by RSPB Scotland.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “The SGA has no membership interest in this case. It is not our place to comment, therefore, on individuals involved in the alleged incident or to provide a critique of COPFS. That is a matter for the various different interests involved in wildlife crime investigations. We trust that, had the evidence gathered been considered satisfactory by the appropriate authority, due process would have followed.
“The SGA has a clear message on wildlife crime. Any member convicted of a wildlife crime is removed from the organisation immediately. The SGA advocates solely legal methods for tackling species conflicts. More remains to be done to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland, and across Europe, but official statistics show an evidenced record of improvement in this country over a sustained five year period and the SGA are very much part of the continuing effort to see further reductions.”
Ends.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A NUMBER OF AMENDMENTS TO FIREARMS LAW HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE POLICING AND CRIME BILL.

A number of amendments to Firearms law have been made by the Policing and Crime Bill. Three of the key changes are explained below.

Authorised Lending and Possession of Firearms (section 132)

What is the aim of the amendment?
The amendment removes the uncertainty in the existing law as to who is an ‘occupier’ of premises for the purpose of lending a shotgun or rifle on that land.

What was the previous legislation?
The law previously allowed a person who was not a certificate holder to borrow a shotgun or rifle from the occupier of private premises (including land) and use it on those premises in the occupier’s presence. In the case of a rifle the law also authorised use of the rifle in the presence of the occupier’s “servant” who must hold a certificate for that rifle. Only a person aged 17 or over may have borrowed a rifle.

What has the amendment changed?
The amendment clarifies the law and provides legal certainty. The law will now allow a person, without holding a certificate, to borrow a shotgun or rifle on private premises and use that firearm in the presence of the lender or other person authorised in writing. Only a person aged 17 or over may borrow a rifle.

The new clause makes clear that the person lending the firearm must be a certificate holder aged 18 or over and can be either a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, or is a person authorised by them in writing.
Where a rifle is borrowed it must be used in the presence of the lender or if not the person lending then a person aged 18 or over who holds a firearm certificate in respect of the rifle borrowed. The person in whose presence the rifle is used must also, if not the lender, be a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purposes of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, ie. he must have similar qualifications to a person who is given the ability to lend.
Where a shotgun is borrowed it must be used in the presence of the lender or if not the person lending then a person over 18 who holds a shotgun certificate and who is authorised by a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin.

The amendment will not restrict the use to which a shotgun or rifle may be put when it is borrowed on private premises. Thus a shotgun may be used to shoot live quarry such as game or wildfowl, or for pest control or clay shooting. A rifle may be used for hunting animals or for pest control or it may be fired at artificial targets. The use of a rifle must, as at present, comply with any conditions on the certificate held in respect of that rifle.

It should be noted that a person who is authorised to lend a gun or to be present when it is being used, must be authorised ‘in writing’. It is expected that this term will be clarified in Home Office guidance. The Firearms (Electronic Communications) Order 2011 currently allows notification by email for certain purposes in connection with the Firearms Act.

Who will this help?
Previously the law did not define occupier, and the Courts had never defined the term. As such there was uncertainty as to who could lend a shotgun in many situations and many legitimate shooters were prevented from lending a gun to a friend or family member on private land because, while they might have been a member of a shooting syndicate or club, or otherwise have lawful authority to shoot over land, they were not considered the ‘occupier’.

Young people who were being taught to shoot were, previously, often obliged to hold a shotgun certificate because they were unable, lawfully, to borrow a shotgun on land where they were being coached by a parent or other adult.

The shooting world has changed considerably since the Firearms Act 1968 was enacted and nowadays more shooting is done on a syndicate (sometimes even a roaming syndicate) basis, where there is an increasing distance between the landowner or the holder of the shooting rights and those shooting on the day. This law helps the whole shooting community whether they are shooting game or targets, and marks a significant clarification of firearms legislation.

The change in the law will also assist the police as one of the unintended consequences of the previous law is the need to apply for shotgun certificates for children and young people so they could shoot under supervision when borrowing a gun from someone who was not the ‘occupier’. This is no longer necessary.

Extension of Firearms Certificates (section 133)

What is the aim of the amendment?
The amendment allows a person to continue to possess firearms lawfully, for a limited period of 8 weeks following the expiry of a firearm and/or shot gun certificate, so long as the application to renew had been submitted to the police 8 weeks before the expiry date.
 What was the previous legislation?

Previously, if the applicant’s certificate ran out before the firearms licensing team had had time to renew it then the applicant was in unlawful possession. In order to remedy this, he must have either transferred his guns to another lawful holder or to a Registered Firearms Dealer. Alternatively, where the delay in renewal was down to the police firearms licensing team, the police must have issued a Section 7 Temporary Permit to ensure that his possession of firearms remained lawful. However, the applicant would still have to have transferred all Section 5 items to a Section 5 Dealer or hand them over to the police for storage, as Section 5 items cannot be held on a Temporary Permit.
What has the amendment changed?

This legislation gives the police an eight week window to complete the renewal and avoid the administrative burden of issuing a Section 7 Temporary Permit.

Who will this help?
Many people depend on their firearms for their livelihood, and the inability to use their shotguns and firearms lawfully would undermine their ability to carry out the functions of their job. Although in theory the firearms licensing team should be completing all renewals before the applicant’s existing certificate has expired, that is unfortunately not the case in practice. It is not uncommon for a renewal to take several months in some police force areas. This amendment would assist the police and firearms users and reduce the reliance of the police on Section 7 Temporary Permits
Temporary Permits were originally intended to deal with cases in which the executor of an estate needed to dispose of firearms that belonged to a deceased person. They were not meant for coping with a backlog in renewals of either shotgun or firearm certificates, but this is how they are now being used by many police forces.

It should also be noted that some of the police forces inspected by HMIC failed to issue Section 7 Temporary Permits to individuals whose certificates had expired, placing these individuals in an illegal situation through no fault of their own.

Controls on Ammunition which Expands on Impact (section 131)

What is the aim of the amendment?
The amendment removes the prohibition on expanding ammunition introduced by the 1997 Firearms (Amendment) Act. Expanding ammunition would therefore revert to Section 1 of the 1968 Act. Until 1992 no-one perceived expanding ammunition as a problem, but its status was changed in the Firearms (Amendment) Regulations 1992, which appears to have arisen from a misunderstanding of the EU Weapons Directive 91/477/EEC of the 18 June 1991, which prohibited expanding pistol ammunition for certain purposes.

What was the previous legislation?
With expanding ammunition being classified as Section 5, special authority had to be given on a firearm certificate for the possession of expanding ammunition, requiring additional administration by the police. Furthermore, expanding ammunition could not be held on a Section 7 Temporary Permit. As such, where police forces used a Permit in cases where there was a delay in the renewal of a certificate those individuals who needed to use expanding ammunition in the course of their employment or for sporting purposes, could not do so.

What has the amendment changed?
The amendment has moved expanding ammunition back to Section 1 allowing firearm certificate holders to buy/hold/use the ammunition without specific derogation. Expanding ammunition for pistols remains prohibited under EU law.

Who will this help?
This will be of benefit to the over 100,000 people that participate in deer stalking every year and the many others who control pests, who will now be able to obtain their ammunition with greater ease. The amendment simplifies the licensing process, saves resources for the police and also facilitates the movement of such ammunition through the trade. Expanding ammunition is required under the Deer Act 1991 and the Deer (Firearms etc.) (Scotland) Order 1985 in order to shoot deer and is the humane option for pest control and humane dispatch. It is therefore widely possessed, and certificates were rendered more complex by the inclusion of the additional authorities to acquire and possess it. It was illogical to have a type of ammunition banned by one Act and yet required to be used by another.
Furthermore, because the reason for which authority may be granted (“the management of any estate”) refers only to estates in Britain, owners of rifles for use overseas, such as large calibre rifles designed for hunting dangerous game, are currently prohibited from possessing expanding ammunition for their rifles in this country and they may not therefore zero and practice in Britain with their rifles using the ammunition which they will be using overseas. The return of expanding ammunition to section 1 has removed this restriction.


Author and Credit to Jack Knott at Countryside Alliance

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

STALKERS HOPE MONARCH OF THE GLEN STAYS IN SCOTLAND


Lea MacNally works at Glenquoich
where Landseer  painted (see image below story)
Scotland’s gamekeepers and stalkers have urged the public to ensure the ‘Monarch of the Glen’ stays in Scotland, with the iconic red deer still highly relevant to many highland communities.
National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) has until Friday to meet the £4m price tag, enabling Sir Edward Landseer’s celebrated 1851 depiction of a Stag to remain in public view.
When NGS launched its ‘Help Save The Stag’ campaign last month, £750 000 was still required to honour the agreement made between the gallery and drinks giant Diageo, its present owner.
That deal would see Landseer’s most famous painting acquired for less than half its £10m market value and avoid it being sold on the open market and potentially leaving Scotland.
With days to go the deadline, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association hopes public generosity will tip the funding bid over the finishing line, keeping the work in Edinburgh.
Despite it being painted in the 19th Century, stalkers within the organisation believe the red deer is still highly relevant today, as a symbol of wild Scotland and an economic lifeline for some remote communities.
“I genuinely hope people can help meet the target and the Monarch stays,” said Lea MacNally, a stalker in Glenquoich near Lochaber, where Landseer sketched another of his famous works of a tracker dog called ‘Rifler’ laying atop a fallen deer (image below).
“The ‘Monarch’ provokes differing views but what is undeniable is that the sight of a Stag in its wild home still stirs something within people today. I regularly see wildlife photographers, with expensive gear, clambering to capture what Landseer was capturing back then, with oil paints.
“In remote communities like this one, deer bring sportsmen and women, and wildlife tourists, to the glen, which keeps the businesses afloat at difficult times of the year, and people in employment. There are always busloads of tourists stopping at a place known locally as ‘Landseer’s Rocks’. Venison is also a premium organic food product, internationally.
“It would be a real shame to lose the painting. It is a tribute to an iconic animal which continues to give a lot to the country and especially to the highlands.”
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s views have struck a chord with northern businesses benefiting from the allure of an animal regularly voted the Scottish public’s favourite.
Camey Simpson runs Simpson Game from the Badenoch village of Newtonmore and his highly trained team process red deer venison sourced from estates across the north.
“It would be fitting if the painting stayed in Scotland. Some people might associate the subject matter with gentry but, for us, it is about employment and investment in a lot of trained local people who would otherwise leave the village to find work elsewhere and probably not return.
“The red Stag, as painted by Landseer, is part of our heritage. It is recognised as belonging to Scotland, not Wales, Ireland or anywhere else. We need to value it, just as we need to value the industry it supports, rather than it becoming another Scottish hard luck story.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund has supported the campaign to purchase the painting with a £2.75m donation, topped up by Art Fund cash of £350 000 plus donations.
It has been in private and corporate collections since Landseer completed it in 1851.
“There are two types of native deer in Scotland – red deer and roe deer. The majestic red deer is our largest terrestrial mammal, and undoubtedly one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles of Scotland; their sights and sounds are enjoyed by locals, tourists, and Autumn-watch viewers alike.”
Source: Scottish Natural Heritage (see About Red Deer, above).
National Galleries Scotland Donations page: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/supportus/donate-now

Another of Landseer's celebrated paintings was sketched at Glenquoich.







SGA COMMENT ON SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SNARING REVIEW

Attendees at one of the recent SGA Snare training courses in Perth.

Earlier today (March 14th 2017), Scottish Government published the findings of its review of snaring, carried out by an independent review group, led by Scottish Natural Heritage.

You can view the report press release and the content of its findings, here:  http://news.gov.scot/news/snaring-review


Responding to the report, Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "We are pleased to hear the independent Review Group's findings that the number of snaring incidents in Scotland have fallen to statistically very low levels. As an approved body, the SGA has trained a significant proportion of those legally permitted to operate snares in Scotland, in accordance with best practice and the tougher regulations brought in under the WANE Bill. We will now work with Scottish Government and SNH to develop an updated Code of Practice."
Ends.

Using Snares in Scotland: 


Snares are a legal management tool deployed for the control of abundant foxes which predate ground nesting birds, some of which have suffered declines of almost 50 per cent in recent years and are now regarded a national conservation priority. https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/releases/410756-curlew-should-be-uks-top-conservation-concern-says-rspb-scotland

Snares, when set in accordance with the law, can be deployed in areas and at other times of the year where alternative methods are not effective. High vegetation in summer months and areas of extremely rough terrain are examples of situations where snares are the most effective method for fox control. Similarly, when set legally, the snare acts as a restraining device until the target animal can be despatched or any non target species can be released unharmed. Scientists also deploy snares to safely capture animals they intend to fit with radio tags.

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) Order 2015 looked at the welfare issues surrounding the setting of snares. This resulted in all those wishing to operate snares legally in Scotland being trained to do so, with the welfare of the animal being paramount.

One of the organisations approved by Scottish Government to deliver training was The Scottish Gamekeepers Association. To date, the SGA reports that it has trained 600 of its own members and 200 non-members out of the 1500+ individuals in total who have been accredited to operate snares legally in Scotland. 

Proportionate to the numbers of individuals trained to use snares, there have been very few recorded prosecutions connected to the misuse of snares by individuals who have been trained and whose fox or rabbit snares carry the necessary personal identification tag which must be obtained from Police Scotland.


Practitioners Guides set out the legal and welfare requirements for setting snares and can be found here: http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/docs/Snaring%20in%20Scotland%204th%20Edition%202012.pdf

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

20TH ANNIVERSARY AGM: FULL SCHEDULE

For the first time, the SGA AGM will move to McDiarmid Park in Perth, home of St Johnstone FC.

The SGA is delighted to announce the full itinerary for the 20th anniversary AGM with Marsdens Game Feeds on Friday March 3rd at McDiarmid Park, Perth.
Once again, there is a packed programme in store and some places are still left so please book your seat now by calling the office on 01738 587 515.
Principal Speaker on this special occasion will be Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, who will also answer questions from the floor.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg will then address the attendees and outline the SGA’s vision for 2017.
Grouse management is the focus after this, with Angus-based Principal Botanist Dr Andy McMullen speaking on the subject of challenges and opportunities facing modern day grouse moor managers.
Andy will be followed by Bob Kindness, a salmon and trout rearing expert who will explain the everyday miracles undertaken to restore stocks in the River Carron, Wester Ross.
Bob will then hand over to George Richie, who is highly trained in tracking wounded wild boar in Europe.
Scottish Natural Heritage, at the request of SGA, will deliver a talk to attendees on its species licensing remit. There will also be a presentation on avian flu; the latest information, biosecurity and potential ramifications for the game sector.
Registrations will begin at 9am with lunch due to be served after 1pm. The SGA will also welcome its new partnership with Polaris and launch the 2017 SGA Raffle.

*Members seeking to attend MUST contact the SGA office to book, on 01738 587 515.