Saturday, 16 September 2017

SGA FISHING GROUP CALLS FOR ACTION AFTER SALMON FARM ESCAPE ON MULL

River workers are expressing growing concern for wild salmon around Mull after it emerged a recent escape from a local fish farm saw over 11 000 farmed fish entering rivers.
On August 21st the escape from a Scottish Salmon Company farm at Geasgill near Ulva was reported to Marine Scotland after employees noted low numbers during a routine grading exercise.
It has now been confirmed 11 040 farmed salmon have entered local rivers including the River Ba, one of very few rivers in the west of Scotland given a class 1 rating for salmon conservation.
On four beats directly affected by the escape, a total of around 250 of the fish have been accounted for, leaving thousands traveling through local systems.
Ghillies have been ordering any farmed salmon caught to be killed and not returned.
However, given other high profile escapes around the island’s waters there is now real concern that cross-breeding between cage escapees and wild salmon will weaken the wild gene pool, with unknown biological consequences.
There are also longer-term fears over the health of wild fisheries being expressed by riparian owners around the affected river system, with visiting anglers landing modified fish.
Greg Marsh of the SGA (Scottish Gamekeepers Association) Fishing Group, who looks after operations at River Coladoir and Loch Scridain says Scottish Government attempts to make aquaculture more environmentally sustainable are not working.
“The Ba is a class one river, which means it is rated by Scottish Government scientists as having the highest grading for conservation of wild salmon.
“There are now a lot of farmed fish through it and up into Loch Ba. People here are up in arms.
“What effect is this going to have on the wild fish? What will fisheries be offering in 3 or 4 years’ time? Fish of unknown genetic purity.
“We can continue to catch and dispatch as many of the escaped fish as we can but the damage has been done because lots won’t be caught.
“Those on the environmental side in Scottish Government need to raise greater awareness of the dangers to wild fish caused by escapes from fish farms and start doing something more effective about it.”
Marsh says all Scottish anglers now need to now be able to identify farmed salmon in rivers to ensure the fish are not being re-released into the system, if caught.
Back in April this year 20 000 fish and 1300 wrasse escaped from a Scottish Sea Farms plant at Bloody Bay on Mull, with predictions that some of those escapees will now be in mainland rivers.
“One of the key differences in appearance between wild and farmed salmon is that the vents on a wild salmon will be reddy/brown and slightly swollen at this time of year.
“Farmed salmon have silver vents, their adipose, tail and pectoral fins look smaller and are often shredded and there is very little to identify whether they are male or female.
“The likelihood of crossbreeding is a real concern so people need to know the difference if the impacts of these escapes are to be contained in any way.”

Thursday, 31 August 2017

SGA URGES MEMBERS TO ASSIST POLICE WITH MISSING HARRIER

In response to an RSPB media release seeking more information regarding a tagged Hen Harrier which has gone missing in Deeside, the SGA has asked any members who know anything to assist Police Scotland.

A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "The SGA would urge anyone who saw the bird or knows anything about it to contact Police Scotland. This is the first we have heard of this. Obviously any news like this is very disappointing. The SGA condemns raptor persecution and if any of our members are convicted of a wildlife crime they are removed from our organisation. We have learned from those monitoring tags that birds can move some distance away from where they were last recorded so it is important that, if people know anything, they alert the Police immediately.”

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

RESPONSE TO WALKHIGHLANDS ARTICLE - ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON GROUSE


Earlier this week, the popular walking website Walkhighlands published a blog 'primer' article by David Lintern on grouse shooting (you can see the original article, here). https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/the-numbers-game-a-grouse-moor-primer-for-hillwalkers/0016780/

The SGA Committee has responded to the article, with a post on the Walkhighlands forum. Please see the reply, in full, below. 


I write in reply to David Lintern’s blog post ‘The Numbers Game- a grouse moor primer for walkers’. 

David makes a manful attempt to get to grips with the endless politics surrounding grouse shooting, which is no easy task. Anyone tackling it deserves congratulations for even starting.

There are some points which do require another perspective if walkers taking to the moors are to receive a rounded account of the many issues.

To an extent, David is correct when he talks about grouse and numbers, or volume. Numbers are critical to rural businesses survival, whether canoe hire companies angling for leisure customers or livestock farmers. Grouse moor managers are no different. Businesses take steps to ride out financial gullies, maximising in the good times, knowing it may not always be thus, and they need to study the balance sheet keenly in leaner times. The farmer may sell more cattle in a down cycle or raise the head of cattle in peak times. From time to time, we could all do with making a human effort to walk in the shoes of those trying to operate any successful rural business in the present environment.

There are big, small and medium grouse moors across Scotland, just like in other market models. Those who tend to see the moor as their primary commercial concern will look at how they can minimise the blips which come with the management of a wild quarry on a high hillside in indefinite Scottish weather which will be all too familiar to readers of this (Walkhighlands) blog. If an estate has other primary interests, it may make a decision to devote more investment to its tourism or forestry offering and will plough less cash resource into the management of the moor and employ fewer gamekeepers. 

There is an implication in David’s article that running the business of grouse shooting in a way which brings the benefits of upscaling and investment is questionable. This deserves greater analysis at a time when other industries are trying hard to encourage investment and growth. 

A recent survey of 7 regional moorland groups highlighted the amount of money grouse estates in Scotland spend in their local communities. The fact that, across Scotland, a grouse estate will spend, averagely, over £500 000 in the downstream economy before a shot is fired, was well covered in the media. What was less reported was the fact that some of the larger commercial estates were spending up to 4 times that amount, employing more gamekeepers and shepherds to manage the moors, and were investing far bigger sums in infrastructure projects. 

Numbers are important in these communities, as David states, and it important to look at the whole picture of how these communities might sustain themselves in the absence of grouse shooting, which David touches upon eloquently at the end of his piece.

Importantly, that financial injection into trades and businesses continues, whether there is any grouse shooting or not - and, yes, there are seasons when there is not, whether due to bad weather at breeding time, disease, predation or combinations of all of these, coupled with sheer bad luck.

David mentions management interventions which are designed to help ride out the blips, such as using medicated grit to prevent disease outbreaks. There are guidelines as to the use of medicated grit. It must be signed off by a veterinarian and the new design of coating, mentioned by David, makes it a product no less reliable or environmentally secure as any other form of standard cattle wormer.
We need to ask ourselves whether this is objectionable, or whether it is a reasonable price, to give the moor owner at least some confidence in a harvestable surplus which will allow some ‘let days’ for visiting shooters, and some income.

Many moor owners may be wealthy individuals and, for some reason be scorned for that, but no business can sustain upwards of half a million of losses indefinitely, and keep employment, without recouping some cash from shooters, rich or otherwise. At the very least, there might be some sympathy for a moor owner trying to manage her/his estate, using those legal interventions afforded them, so that they didn’t have to lay off gamekeeping or office staff every time there was the reality of a poor season.

David’s comments regarding muirburn impacting seriously on air quality are not backed by consistent science. According to a 2006 paper by Buchanan GM, Grant MC, Sanderson RA, Pearce-Higgins JW, ‘The Contribution of Invertebrate Taxation moorland bird diets and the potential implication of land-use management’, states: “So far, research has produced inconsistent evidence, with predictions, including both positive and negative effects of burning.”
Similarly, David’s assertion that grouse moors are drained to maximise grouse is factually incorrect. In what has been proved to be a short-sighted prescription, government subsidies were given out in the 60s and 70s for moorland ditching or ‘gripping’ for agricultural reasons as part of the ‘more food from our own resources’ programme. Often wrongly criticised, present grouse moor owners are actually at the vanguard of blocking these historic drainage ditches and reversing that oversight, with over 120 hectares of the North Pennines moors being ‘re-wetted’ as well as significant areas of upland Scotland.

The original article talks about predator control and rightly so. It is a key element of grouse moor management. There tends, however, to be a considerable degree of dishonesty about controlling predators in this country. For example, the original article talks of ‘eradication’ yet few people question the fact that Scottish Wildlife Trust has been running a successful grey squirrel eradication programme in Scotland for some years, to revive the native red. SNH and RSPB are about to attempt to access £3m of public money to eradicate stoats on Orkney for conservation reasons. The control, but not eradication, of stoats and other abundant predators by gamekeepers is not only a service, delivered free, benefiting game birds. The same reason it is being considered for Orkney is why it is undertaken on moorland, with proven results. Britain’s biggest conservation priority, the Curlew, is found to breed up to three times better on moors managed by gamekeepers than elsewhere. Predator control may not always be palatable to everyone but the truth is most conservation organisations in the UK today will also carry out some degree of predator control (and sometimes controlled muirburn) even if they won’t want to shout too much about it for fear of prigging membership sensibilities.

The article speaks of there being no data for standalone subsidies given to grouse moors in Scotland. Moors, like other holdings, may receive subsidies for tree planting or projects such as creating habitat for black grouse but there is no standalone subsidy for red grouse management in this country. David is correct in his assertion that grouse moor management is a ‘manipulated system’ but care needs to be taken here because most land-based industries are. Forestry and woodland regeneration has, within its business model, an increasing reliance on the killing of deer out of season and all year round to protect the crop, as well as the culling of mountain hares which also damage young trees. All ‘crops’ depend on some form of environmental and economic trade-off.

David is right to point to raptor persecution as a blot. There is no hiding this or any attempt to. Much is being done to root this out and much more will have to be done, although the sustained reductions in illegal poisonings do point to progress, as does the recent return of the golden eagle to favourable status. The Hen Harrier faces an uncertain plight, as mentioned, yet persecution on moors is not the sole problem facing the bird, nationally, even if it remains a genuine concern and headline grabber. For many years Harriers have also been failing on Special Protection Areas established for their safety and are struggling also on mainland reserves, where there is no grouse shooting. The role of predators and weather merits deeper analysis but partnership working between conservation bodies and shooting estates, rather than the erection of barriers, is likely to be the best hope for the Harrier in the years to come.

David concludes his article by suggesting that grouse shooting’s number is up and that grouse shooting is not remotely sustainable in environmental terms.
There are certainly some individuals, celebrities and organisations who would clearly like nothing more. Indeed, some activist groups are sustained by their opposition to the shooting community. However, equally the question must also be asked whether NOT having grouse shooting is sustainable in environmental and economic terms and David, rightly, points to the need for campaigners to develop alternatives, rather than simply denounce. Without shooting to provide the income to cover moorland management, who cares for the globally rare heather moorlands and the species which rely upon it? Someone will have to, and likely at a significant public cost. These moorlands support biological communities found only in the UK and contains 18 species of European or international importance, with the 1992 Rio Convention on Biodiversity ratifying the global importance of UK heather moorland.

When grouse shooting stopped in Berwyn in Wales, designated as an SPA for Hen Harriers, merlin, peregrine, red kite and upland waders in 1998, studies were undertaken to examine the impact of lack of management by gamekeepers on moorland species. Between 1983-5 and 2002, lapwing were lost, golden plover declined 90 percent and Curlew declined 79 percent. While Buzzard and Peregrine numbers increased, Hen Harriers numbers dropped 49 percent, which perhaps explains the earlier point about the role of predation. Black grouse numbers declined by 78 per cent. On the one remaining moor with a full-time gamekeeper, Ruabon Moor, black grouse numbers increased tenfold, with 200 males in Spring. Red grouse management techniques are being reintroduced slowly, assisted by public money from the Welsh Government, in order to bring about the proven benefits which will help return the birdsong to moors now sadly quieter.

Similar projects are happening in Northern Ireland. Only this week, red-listed Curlew were reported to have bred succesfully at Glenwherry Farm for the first time in 20 years. This is a site where the Irish Grouse Conservation Trust are working with farmers, conservationists and public agencies to benefit hill wildlife through integrated management, with red grouse management a major plank.

No system is ever perfect and cannot be improved. The land is dynamic and encounters threats and challenges. However, those taking to the hills should be aware that not all campaigners are right and all land managers are wrong. Scotland’s lauded landscape is a managed landscape and has been for many centuries. It is a land for communities and life as well as leisure and tourism and ought to be respected for both, with understanding on both sides.

Kenneth Stephen on behalf of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association Committee.












Tuesday, 22 August 2017

RODENTICIDE SURVEY

Participate in the The UK Rodenticide Use Survey 2017
The way we use rodenticides in the UK is changing.  There are many reasons for this including the requirements of UK regulators, pressure from environmental groups and the action of the European Union, which has reduced our options for controlling rodents.
We want to get a snap-shot of how people are using rat baits.  So during the summer of 2017 there will be a survey about rodenticide use in the UK.  It is carried out by telephone and takes no longer than about twenty minutes.  No personal information will be published.  All survey information is expressed as averages for many different survey participants.  So no individual replies can be identified.
If you use rodenticides and are willing to participate in this important survey, please send an email with your name and telephone number to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association here: info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk.  Please confirm in the message that you wish to participate in the rodenticide survey.  You may then be contacted by telephone.

The names of all those who register will be entered into a prize draw, whether they are chosen for a telephone call or not.  The winner will receive a prize of £200.

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.”