Monday, 2 December 2019


When it comes to land issues today, it seems a true story is not the one that gets the most coverage. Why let truth get in the way? Everyone can buy into the need to take action on climate change, for example, but some of the criticism of UK farming practices recently has been off the scale. I feel truly sorry for the farming bodies having to correct the many lies. The SGA has direct experience of this, too, as opinions stretch science and reality and campaigns become more and more extreme.

In recent times, some of the criticisms of muirburn have been similarly extreme. It is the case, now, that if people see wildfires in Scotland, the instant reaction is to point the finger at the land manager. "It must be those bloody gamekeepers burning the countryside again." It is then up to bodies like ourselves to try to get to the truth and correct the tidal wave of misinformation. 

We even saw it with elected representatives last year, jumping to conclusions and writing to newspapers before knowing anything about the situation on the ground. This doesn't help anyone though I dare say they maybe felt it personally helped their anti grouse campaign. That is the politics of today, less about fostering understanding. More about getting noticed. No wonder some people switch off. Fortunately, there are still some politicians left who will seek the views of the working practitioners instead of just allying themselves with the next campaign dreamt up in an Edinburgh lobbying office.

With the assistance of the fire service, which we are very grateful for, the SGA asked for an analysis of the service's own data to try to get to the bottom of the main causes of wildfire in our landscape today. That analysis covered 10 years of data.

Was it the case that these fires were all down to 'bloody gamekeepers and crofters scorching the land?'.

Well, actually, no. In fact, 90 + percent of major wildfires, like the ones we saw in Moray and the Flow Country this year, were caused by other factors not related to land management. You can see the information for yourself below.

Is it not the case, though, that a muirburn fire can get away and cause a blaze in our uplands? Of course. As it is with anything that humans are involved in, there will always be a margin of error. However, as the findings show, those carrying out muirburn today are increasingly aware of how fire behaves in our habitats, the knowledge and skills are better, the warning systems are better, the co-ordination with the fire service improves all the time- and so does the equipment estates use and can deploy in times of need.

Scotland benefits from men and women who have knowledge of how fire affects habitats and, as we consider all the tools in the box to protect against the types of wildfires like the Flow Country, which produced more carbon than Scotland did, we will need this knowledge more, not less.

The move to rewilding could be a nightmare in the making if those in charge of it are not making detailed plans to create firebreaks and manage high fuel loads. We have warned people. Only time will tell if anyone is listening.

Nearly 90 percent from ‘other causes’ in last decade.

Managed muirburn has not been a major contributor to wildfires in Scotland in the last decade, according to analysis of the fire service’s own data.
Burning moorland strips to regenerate heather and grass for grouse and sheep is an ancient activity undertaken by gamekeepers and crofters but critics cite it as a potential cause of wildfire.
Although muirburn is governed by strict seasons, controlled fires can sometimes spread, leading to deployment of fire crews.
However, analysis of raw data from 2009 to 2019 has attributed less than 10 percent of Scotland’s large wildfires to controlled muirburn, with the actual figure certain to be lower still.
Nearly 90 percent of large wildfires now stem from other causes which could be anything from campfires to discarded cigarettes and barbecues.
The data runs counter to a 2018 National Trust for Scotland paper, ‘The Relationship Between Prescribed Burning and Wildfires’ which ascribed 60 percent of wildfires to potential muirburn.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) asked the fire service for an evaluation of that report’s main dataset, which was taken from the service’s Incident Reporting System (IRS).
What was discovered was that figures had been skewed by the way data had been accessed from the database and by the way fires themselves are recorded on IRS.
Using additional notes from actual fires, it was found that only 9.3 percent of large wildfires could reasonably be attributed to muirburn since 2009.
Actual figures would be less, though, as ‘potential muirburn’ also contained entries such as bonfires, campsite fires and other controlled fires not related to land management.
SGA Vice Chairman Peter Fraser said: “We asked for the data to be analysed because we thought the 60 percent figure very surprising.
“We also wanted to understand how wildfires were classified under IRS.
“Obviously it has brought clarity. There is a marked difference between 9.3 percent of large wildfires potentially being caused by muirburn and 60 percent. There is a tendency, when people see big fires, to point instantly to muirburn. This data shows the extent of other factors.
“All land holdings have a role in managing fire in our landscape, whether conservation bodies, nature reserves, croft lands, recreation groups or estates.
“It is important the public get reliable information about muirburn, particularly as it has an increasingly important role in reducing fuel loads. High fuel loads can contribute to the types of extensive fires like Moray and the Flow Country this year, which were not caused by muirburn.”
In 2010/2011, 33 of 52 primary wildfires were classified on the IRS database as potentially caused by muirburn, using certain search parameters.
Further investigation, however, found that only 2 appeared to be caused by muirburn.
A fire service spokesman said: “I think where the discrepancies have come in is in the way the data has been recovered from the system. We have been able to further analyse the data and use the notes added by the officer completing the IRS to provide a fuller and more accurate picture of the causes of the wildfires we have attended.”
Earlier this year, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service stated that they are exploring the use of prescribed burning as a tool in the prevention and control of wildfires, through the creation of strategic fire breaks, and fuel management.
Dozens of gamekeepers assisted fire crews at the blazes in Moray and the Flow Country, with specialist equipment and manpower.

  • The wildfire which ravaged the Flow Country peat bogs in May doubled Scotland’s entire CO2 emissions in the 6 days it burned, covering 22 sq miles of protected blanket bog. Over £13m worth of public money has been invested at the site in the last 18 years to restore the Flows.
  • The Moray wildfire (see pic below) started in an area where controlled muirburn had not been permitted for 3 years and had been severely restricted for 10 years, leading to high fuel load.

For more on Muirburn and its impact on peat and the environment, see:

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Kenny Wilson - Funeral Arrangements

Please see below the Funeral Arrangements for the Late Kenny Wilson

Kenny’s funeral will be at 10:30 in Biggar Kirk (Parish Church) on Friday 8 November.

Then to the cemetery at Elvanfoot followed by refreshments at the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019


Dear SGA members. I hope the seasons are going well. I would like to personally thank everyone who responded to our request for information on how they use General Licences. I would also like to thank those who responded to the SNH consultation. The SGA submitted a detailed response on behalf of its members. We hope SNH will now consider the issue carefully before contemplating changes for 2020.

Update on SGA Petition on satellite tags fitted to raptors.

The SGA submitted a Parliamentary petition (PE1750) on 23rd September asking for satellite tags fitted to raptors to be independently monitored. The Petition received 1729 signatures ( 276 offline signatures ). Thanks to all those who responded and posted comments on the Scottish Parliament website. The Petitions Committee considered the petition on 10th October 2019 and has now agreed to refer it to the ECCLR Committee for consideration as part of its ongoing work on wildlife crime. 

If any members have had personal experience of satellite tagging of raptors, or have permitted raptor tagging on their ground and have a view of how the system can be improved, please contact the SGA office on

SEPA Aquaculture consultation

SEPA is calling for views on how organic feed load for fish farms should be regulated in order to ensure environmental protection. Materials from pens enter the water and it is SEPA’s duty to ensure any damage to the environment is minimised and measured.

The consultation will close on 27th November.  Please respond. All the details can be found, here:

Monday, 7 October 2019


Commenting on the results of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: 

“Langholm is not all moors. It is an island moor fringed by forestry. Most successful moors today will join onto others, preventing the combined build up of predators and improving the chances of successful shooting, in years when breeding conditions are favourable. This is achieved through legal predator control by gamekeepers, operating at a much bigger, landscape scale.

“However, Langholm gives valuable insights into the challenges of trying to produce economic return from a moor through shooting which, in turn, finances the land management of gamekeepers which, in turn, maintains globally rare, EU priority habitats, and bolsters globally threatened bird species.

“The possibility of removing some of the predation pressure was discussed during the project, under an adaptive licence, which may have led to a different outcome. However, that was not supported and it was frustration over this which ultimately led to the project’s premature end.

“Despite the investment of over £3m of private and tax payer money, 5 gamekeepers lost their jobs and the reality is that Scotland is left, again, with a failing SPA for Hen Harriers and a silent moor rapidly losing its keystone wildlife and heather habitat. At this critical juncture, with political spotlight on grouse shooting, we now need to ask if this is a wise use of scarce resources.

“Other studies, such as in South West Scotland, have shown a similar undeniable pattern: when grouse moor management is lost or curtailed, we lose endangered wildlife, jobs and community benefit and the combined weight of research must act as a warning to decision makers.

“In order to avoid more ‘lose, lose’ scenarios such as Langholm, agencies need to look more deeply and honestly at adaptive solutions which can help protect the interests of moorland owners and conservation. 

“England currently leads, with projects such as the Hen Harrier brood management scheme. Hopefully Scotland can look at Langholm, other studies and other potential tools, and grasp the nettle to avoid similar situations in future.”

What the report said: 

Question: Would lowering the expected ‘grouse bag’ not provide an economic solution?

Answer: “Setting a lower grouse bag target would not have altered this outcome
for two reasons. First, after allowing for an average annual loss of grouse to other causes, the number of grouse able to be shot without stopping grouse population growth was limited. Shooting a bag likely to generate enough revenue to sensibly contribute toward the management costs would certainly have been unsustainable. For example, 100 brace of grouse would need to cost £150,000, or £750 per bird (over ten times an average 2019 market price) to cover 50% of the annual management cost. Secondly the target of 1000 brace shot in a year during the project was itself only just enough to attract contemporary investors who balance increasingly high risk and uncertain rewards in game management.”

Question: Would diversionary feeding not provide the key to success?

Answer: “Restoration of grouse moor management, in combination with diversionary feeding of harriers, has not yet resulted in a sufficiently increased grouse density to allow driven shooting on Langholm Moor, and thus the management to be considered economically viable.”
“Diversionary food influenced hen harrier nestling diet and reduced the number of red grouse chicks taken relative to modelled predictions. Such feeding may help reduce conflict between hen harrier conservation and red grouse shooting, but only if overall grouse productivity is thereby maintained or increased.”
Question: Is Langholm moor the same as every other grouse moor or are challenges more specific?
Answer: “On Langholm Moor, afforestation in the surrounding landscape and isolation from other heather moors may have led to a grouse population less well buffered against growing predation pressure, especially outside keepered periods. As grouse shooting could not be restored, the future management of the moor remains uncertain.” 
Question: Could better habitat not have improved grouse success?
Answer: “Despite diversionary feeding and the keepers’ predator control, the key losses of grouse still appeared to be to predators with adverse weather for chicks possibly playing a role in some years. Some 93% of grouse carcasses found showed signs of predation or scavenging (82% raptor, 8% mammal, 3% unknown predator, 7% other) and raptors were associated with 35% of grouse nesting failures. While several factors may influence these rates and their interpretation, the evidence available suggested that mortality associated with raptor signs was the most important factor determining adult survival and was closely linked, possibly alongside weather, to low rates of chick survival. 
“Habitat is important for ensuring there is the opportunity for the grouse population to expand, but as the project analysis indicated, habitat restoration alone does not improve survival or breeding success so may be insufficient to increase a population that has become constrained by high mortality associated with predation.”

Langholm, some numbers: 

  • In order to reach a financial break-even, Langholm Moor would have had to be able to shoot 3000 brace of grouse. The project target was set much more modestly at 1000 brace.
  • In 2014, 47 Hen Harrier chicks were successfully fledged from 10 nests, with none lost to predation.
  • In 2018 (after gamekeepers were removed), 3 Harrier chicks were fledged, 2 nests were predated by foxes and one nest was disturbed.
  • When gamekeepers were operating on the moor, the numbers of black grouse rose from 5 lekking males to 18.

  • When gamekeepers were operating, the moor had double figure Merlin nests. In 2018, after the gamekeepers were removed, only 1 of 9 Merlin nests hatched young, with all other nests predated. The one successful nest was in a tree.
What Head Gamekeeper Simon Lester said of the lessons of Langholm, when it comes to offering future solutions regarding the red grouse/raptor conflict.
“If a proper (species control) licensing system was in place, I believe you could almost eradicate raptor persecution. If there was more scope to manage problems legally, people would get more used to living with raptors.”
Bryan Burrows, a former grouse keeper and the SGA representative on the Langholm project steering group lives 1.5 miles from the moor. He still visits the moor regularly.
“People should see the moor now. There is little wildlife and it will get worse. When the 5 gamekeepers were on it, they did well to get the heather back because it had receded that badly. Now, since they’ve gone, there is heather beetle back on it again. There were 82 buzzards in the area when the moor was keepered. Now, when you walk, you see the odd 1 or 2. The Merlin nests have failed because of ground predation. Away from keepered areas, there are large chunks of Scotland like this now. It is actually a disgrace what has happened. It will be interesting to see if the Harriers even come back next year. When the project was running, you got the occasional party out looking at the Harriers but usually it was 4 or 5 cars parked up, containing the same people. They didn’t have to pay to do it, so I don’t know how much money can be made from tourism when Access laws make it free anyway, and there is nothing to see.”

Tuesday, 10 September 2019


There are 13 days left to sign the SGA petition calling for independent monitoring of satellite tags fitted to raptors, in Scotland. 
If you want to see an independent body overseeing satellite tags so that evidence replaces speculation and trial by media, please add your name to the petition. 
Should the Police have immediate access to all the relevant data to assist them to do their job, or should they have to wait to be given it by third party campaigners? If you want to see change to the way satellite tag information is utilised today, sign now. The petition will close on September 23rd.

Monday, 2 September 2019


Red deer Stags in Forestry
Normalising the shooting of deer at night will have long term implications for their welfare and distribution says Scotland’s deer managers who want to be consulted on new control methods. 
Public agencies are considering thermal and night vision equipment with a view to potentially legalising its use for lowering deer numbers.
Shooting deer at night is prohibited in Scotland unless authorised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and is not legal in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark or Austria.
However, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) believe Scotland’s iconic deer are already changing their behaviour due to being targeted by controllers in darkness.
Applications to SNH to control deer at night to protect forestry have risen by over 300 percent in the last decade, as public agencies move from fencing as a management solution.
The SGA believes this, coupled with recreational disturbance, is causing deer to move into areas such as the lowlands, where mounting damage and vehicle collisions are occurring.
They fear that, if new technology normalises night shooting further, there will be unconsidered animal health consequences as well as major changes to the way Scotland’s deer behave.
“There are a number of positive uses for this equipment currently in spotting and counting deer*, but what we ask is that professional deer managers are consulted on how the technology is to be used in future,” said SGA Vice Chairman, Peter Fraser.
“There is a wider picture. Deer feed in the morning and rest up during the day. However, due to more people using the hills, they can be on the move in daylight and they are also getting targeted now at night time to protect forestry. They are constantly harassed, which causes them to disperse and also impacts on body health.
“Whilst the technology has merits, it could further legitimatise night shooting in Scotland and we will move further away from managing deer in daylight and in season which is better for welfare, safety, quality venison and is more selective and humane than just killing any deer.
“We need to be asking why we have got to a place where night shooting of an iconic species in Scotland has become more of a first resort, yet it is illegal in many European countries.”
Studies on roe deer in Denmark showed that, even where deer were not targeted at night, day time disturbance caused the deer to miss out on feeding for 1 hr and 22 minutes after being disturbed by recreational activity.
It was concluded that several disturbances per day could affect physical fitness and reproductive potential, even without deer also being placed under additional pressure at night. 
Deer distribution also changed during the study and similar multi-party research is now underway in Glen Lyon, involving red deer.
“Thermal and night vision equipment use needs to be seen in the wider context. That is what we want,” said stalker, Lea MacNally. 
“Better forest design and strategic fencing would eliminate many of the problems some feel are driving a need for the technology and, in the hands of poachers, it could make detection and conviction (of poachers) almost impossible. If the Deer Act is to be changed to permit its use for managing deer, consideration should be given to licensing it, with compulsory training.”

*Thermal imaging spotters are currently legal for counting and identifying deer at night. However, it is illegal to shoot a deer using thermal/ night vision scopes on rifles.


  • Over the last 10 years, the red deer annual cull (Scotland) has stood around 60 000 animals per year.
  • Over the last 10 years, the roe deer annual cull (Scotland) has stood around 30 000 animals per year.
  • Red deer are now understood to be declining in Scotland following substantial local reduction culls. Mammal data from BTO Breeding Bird Surveys show the red deer has declined for the past 21 years, in squares monitored by BTO.
  • Roe deer numbers are understood to be increasing due to an improvement and extension of their habitat, mainly in the lowlands. 
  • Sources: SNH (cull data), BTO and Association of Deer Management Groups (population estimates).

Tuesday, 20 August 2019


There has been a further drop in the overall conservation status of Scotland's rivers in terms of salmon.
The annual assessments enable Scottish Government to set conservation measures regarding the taking of wild fish on each river in an effort to ensure sustainability.
What Categories mean when it comes to river by river conservation
River gradings for 2020 were announced today (August 20th), with individual rivers having until 19th September to make representations to Scottish Government if they feel their population assessment is incorrect.
Members should now take note and act accordingly.
Representations can be made to or to Marine Scotland, Salmon and Recreational Fisheries Team, Area 1B North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.
Compared to 2019, there are 36 Category 1 rivers for 2020 instead of 48- a sizeable drop in only 12 months.
Category 2 rivers have increased by 4 to 34 compared to 2019 assessments but Category 3 rivers are up 8 to 103.
The full announcement can be found, here:
Table shows the changes from 2019.

Monday, 19 August 2019


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has issued the following media statement after a Borders gamekeeper, Alan Wilson, was sentenced today (19th August) for wildlife offences.

A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “The actions, in this case, are a gross breach of our organisation’s wildlife crime policy. They reflect negatively on the reputation of the entire profession, are unacceptable and entirely out of step with what we expect of our members’ conduct. We will be terminating the individual’s membership of the SGA with immediate effect.”

Wednesday, 14 August 2019


Survey Findings, 2019.

Individual caught on sign-posted estate CCTV in Perthshire in the act of wrecking a legal snare.

Survey Findings, 2019.

The confidential short-term survey was undertaken by 7 regional moorland groups in Scotland, with additional research data gathered by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA). Estates provided information on the basis that they would not be named, to avoid potential targeting. The survey represents a snapshot of Scottish grouse estates, only, as not all are represented by regional groups. Similarly, only a portion of existing regional group members responded to the email survey.

This information is indicative of illegal activities by third parties encountered on Scottish grouse estates since 2018 but cannot, by its nature, cover all incidents. Despite prompting by representative bodies like The SGA, some estates do not record incidents as they do not have faith their requests for action will be heeded. Police Scotland officers have told gamekeepers there is no specific offence by which to prosecute, for example, trap or snare vandalism. 

Where crime/incident numbers have been given to estates by Police Scotland, these are detailed, as are incidents ‘reported’ to Police Scotland but where numbers have either not been obtained or Police have not given them despite requests. There are other incidents detailed where crime numbers were obtained but respondents have either been unable to match them to particular incidents or cannot locate them. Some incidents were reported to Police by estates which report so many that their records are not fully up to date.

Separate information, for 2018- to the present, from a longer-term survey undertaken by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has also been presented, at the end of the survey findings.

Grampian Incidents:

3 respondent estates: Key Findings.

Estate 1: Incident Number 92: Covert filming of gamekeeper’s family home and home of an 
Under-keeper. Police notified after 2 cameras found by estate staff. Estate itself fitted a tracker and obtained an image of a male, with face covered, returning to collect 2nd camera (photo provided). Images given to Police. Police admit a crime had been committed but unsure of which category of crime.
On same estate, burned-out barbecue, with no evidence of cooking, found by estate staff on the moor during a time of heightened wildfire risk (time of Moray wildfire, 2019). No action on any cases.

Estate 2: Number: CF 0063160319. 2019. Removal of securing bolts from a legal High Seat, for deer management, which could have caused serious injury, particularly a fall with a firearm. 
PS-20190408-3552: 6 traps vandalised across estate. One trap smashed after it was photographed ( set legally ) on a ‘moorland’ activist site. Snares were illegally placed on fences, filmed, and shown online. When gamekeepers went to the site of the filming, the snares had been removed. The film was tagged to Cairngorms National Park Authority figures, leading to questions for the estate’s reputation.
2 Carrion Crows released from crow trap, April 2019. Reported to Police.
CF0115150519: Trap stolen, May 2019.
Dead mountain hare tied on rope to a birch tree and left visible near a public road. Estate reported this to Police.
2019: GPS tracking device, known to be used by UK saboteurs for fitting to vehicles, found at cattle grid.
June 2018: Trap tampered with. Reported to Police. No action on any cases.

Estate 3: 24th June 2019. Incident 2227: Side panel of gas gun (used to move on juvenile non-breeding ravens) smashed with rocks. Batteries thrown away, gas pipe attempted to be cut.

Estate testimony: “We are using the gas bangers as a legal deterrent for large flocks of non-breeding ravens that are devastating to our ground-nesting birds on the hill. We have had groups of 60+ ravens descend onto the hill. They hunt in large groups and will wipe out the nests and chicks of any ground nesting birds in that area if they are allowed to settle there. The bangers are an attempt to keep the flocks moving. We have large populations of curlew, lapwing, golden plover and other rare birds on the hill, here. We are trying to protect our grouse stocks, primarily, but this protection also allows the rare wading birds a safe haven to breed. The vandalism we are experiencing on the hill is a growing problem, causing more and more of a financial cost to the estate, as well as a cost to wildlife on the estate.”

Feb 2019: Crime number 0034770219: Stolen Fenn Trap.
2019: PS-20190730-1728: Damaged Fenn Trap

Previous Incidents- same estate: 

2017: Ref: 0987: Dirt bikes on estate without permission and trap vandalism. Trap fronts thrown away and excluders left in place.
CF0008140117 Snare and Crow Cage damage.
CF0217460716 and 0072500317, trap damage and trap theft.
334371117: Cat cage theft.

2016: 0244940816: Fenn trap stolen, damaged rail trap, 10 traps sprung.
CF0009260117: Stolen stealth camera.

Other: CF0200360513: 4 snare tags stolen, with operator’s personal ID number.
CF0029600112: 2 smashed up Fenn traps.

**Further Notes: After appearing on a BBC Countryfile programme, Grampian group gamekeepers were targeted with online death threats and intimidation. 
Incident 3612: Beat keeper filmed from a moving vehicle whilst in his garden by a male in camouflaged clothing, using long lens camera. Police informed.

No action on any cases.

Angus Incidents:

5 respondent estates: Key Findings.

Estate 1: 4 traps damaged or stolen- all reported to Police.

Estate 2: Number: PS20190429-1922 7 separate trap incidents reported to Police as either tampered or vandalised. Police attended on 2 occasions but no action taken. In one incident, where damage to a crow cage was undertaken using wire cutters, a group were filmed at the cage (see photo). Film handed over to Police. No action.

Estate 3: 20 incidents reported to Police in last 6 years. One Argo vehicle worth £25 000 rolled down a hill causing damage beyond repair. Trap damage ranging from sticks being placed in traps to traps stolen and smashed to pieces. Crow cages vandalised and call birds released, sometimes on a weekly basis, to the point estate staff had to abandon using the trap. 
CR/015126/17 In 2017, 30 traps damaged between 7th and 10th July, logged as intelligence by Police. Some had restrictors removed and were left set, making it possible to illegally catch, which could have caused the estate to be under criminal investigation. 
Estate reported 3 dead buzzards it believed were planted by third parties.

Estate 4: Several traps sprung in 2018 and medicated grit boxes kicked across the ground.

Estate 5: 3 crow cages damaged and reported since Spring 2019 plus 2 incidents of traps (totalling 6) vandalised. Police notified, crime number sought, but no crime number yet given.

**Further Notes: Personal, hand-written, hate letter received by Angus Glens Moorland Group to family home. 2018. Letter handed over to Police.
** Businesses supportive of local grouse estates received online abuse and reputation damage after showing support in an STV news item. 2017.
** An award winning charity programme devised by the Angus group, involving the delivery of free game and recipe cards to vulnerable families was placed in jeopardy after activists targeted the charities following a 2017 blog written by former RSPB Conservation Director Mark Avery, who seeks to ban grouse shooting in the UK.

No action on any cases.

Tayside and Central Scotland Incidents: 

3 respondent estates: Key Findings

Estate 1: Incident numbers Cr/025527/18, Cr/2087/18, Cr/003233/18, Cr/1683/18, Cr/2446/19, Cr/1442/19 (These are only some of incident numbers available for collation)
-33 separate incidents reported to Police of trap damage/vandalism and interference in 12 months since July 2018.
These include traps smashed, 2 snares stolen, snares smashed, damaged and stolen. 19 separate incidents of call birds being released from cages (not reported as not treated by Police as a crime). A gate, lock and strainer broken and reported but not recorded as a crime.

Estate Testimony: “This is not everything which has happened. I have recorded whole families, cycling groups, school teachers, professional people wrecking and even urinating on snares; snares that I handle. Out of all this, there has only been action taken on one individual.” 
*Images of male urinating on snares is currently with Police Scotland.

Estate 2: Incident of estate staff member being watched, reported to Police.
3 incidents of Fenn Trap damage (unreported), 1 crow let out of cage.

Estate 3: Trap tampered with by member of the public caught a protected pine marten, leading to investigation of estate staff. Average 10 traps vandalised or stolen per year, crow cages damaged and crows released from cages.

Action on 1 case. Female given a warning.

Southern Uplands Incidents:

2 respondent estates: Key Findings

Estate 1: Since 2018, 36 traps stolen, 33 traps vandalised, 72 snares sprung or tampered with, 4 snares stolen, 20 snares vandalised. 
13th May 2019, 2 people were caught on CCTV tampering with traps. No response from Police Scotland, despite reporting. 

Estate Testimony: “Multiple crows have been released from cages and rabbit boxes have been vandalised. Most of the incidents were given crime numbers but the estate has been targeted so often it is now losing track of which number relates to which crime.”

Estate 2: May 2019: 2 recorded incidents of traps damaged and traps stolen. Both reported to Police.

No action on any cases.

Tomatin area Incidents:

4 respondent estates: Key Findings

Estate 1: PS-20181019-1134, cage trap and trail camera removed.

Other Incidents over 6 years: MO99631 Gate cut open with chainsaw by off-roaders seeking
un-permitted access to hill
M051859 5 traps damaged, 5 snares vandalised, one trap removed.
L053856 Trap stolen

Estate 2: Numbers 20180310-1018, 20181212-1251, 20190114-1609, 20190213-1681, 20190213-2347. 5 damaged traps.
Number 20181125, damage and theft of snares.
Estate 3: No: 3819 April 2019: Fire started by third parties on estate. Police and Fire Service called. Fire Service extinguished the fire, which then re-started.

Estate 4: Number NN/1356/19 4 traps vandalised
Number NN/8275/18 Rail trap vandalised

Since 2017: NN/26611/17 12 rail and box traps vandalised
R004050 5 snares pulled
NN/7665/17 snare theft.

No action on any cases.

Speyside Incidents:

1 respondent estate. Key Findings.

Estate 1: Since 2018, Q021531 and Q020292- crow traps smashed
NM18117, snare theft. PS201801146, trap theft. 
3499-18/4 several rail traps wrecked in one incident.
PS-20180419-1913 3 Fenn traps stolen.

No action on any cases.

Loch Ness-side Incidents:

2 respondent estates. Key Findings.

Estate 1: 2019, 2 call birds released from cages. Sign advising dog walkers to stick to paths during breeding season torn down. Larsen Trap broken, call bird released.

Estate 2: Flattened Larsen mate trap (see photo), 2018.

No action on any cases

2018/2019 Incidents Recorded by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association

Perthshire Incidents: 

  • Fenn trap ripped from rail and buried under stones in river. Reported to Police but no incident number issued.
  • Decoy bird released from trap (reported to Police and Wildlife Liaison Officer (WLO))- no response.
  • Trap interfered with.
  • Larsen trap damaged and call bird released. 
  • Snares reset (reported to WLO who claimed to know nothing about it despite numerous calls/emails). 
  • Side torn out of crow cage (WLO contacted, no response).
  • Traps for grey squirrels damaged. 
  • Rail trap damaged and the trap sprung.

Highland Incidents:

  • Snares removed by SSPCA and not returned to owner.
  • Larsen trap damaged, call bird released. 
  • Call bird released and trap destroyed. 
  • Crow trap destroyed in a non-public area (perpetrator knew the ground).

Aberdeenshire Incidents: 

  • Traps damaged (WLO called but no visit). 
  • Traps stolen and damaged.
  • Traps damaged.
  • Fenn trap stolen and reported (number given but owner cannot relocate the number).

Lothians Incidents:

  • Traps damaged and call birds released- reported to Police with photographic evidence of perpetrator (no Police action).
  • Snares removed. 
  • Call birds released.

Fife Incidents: 

  • Larsen traps stolen.
  • Call birds released
  • Fenn traps tampered with.

Borders Incidents:

  • Grey squirrel traps damaged

No action on any cases.

Vandalised rail trap.

Crows released from legal crow cage

Damage to legal bird scarer (gas gun). Gas pipe also attempted to be cut by perpetrator.

Trap wrecked.

Rail trap wrecked leaving trap exposed.

Individual filmed coming back to receive a camera  which had been positioned to spy on gamekeepers' homes.

Individual filmed at the site of a vandalised rail trap

Dead hare strung up on rope by roadside in Grampian by member of the public.

Trap wrecked just hours after the same trap, legally set, was photographed and placed on social media by self-confessed 'monitoring' group.

Tampered rail trap

Campaigners removed securing bolts from this High Seat (used for deer management). If a gamekeeper had fallen 3ft with a firearm, this could have caused a potential fatality.

Rail trap smashed and left exposed.