Friday, 16 February 2018

EAGLE DISAPPEARANCE: PENTLANDS


SGA position regarding media stories of an eagle missing in the Pentlands. 

“If evidence is forthcoming to prove this eagle’s disappearance had anything to do with grouse interests and involved any SGA member, we will be quick to act and we will act with the appropriate force. The SGA has a very strict wildlife crime policy and will use it, where there is evidence to do so.
“Unlike other organisations, however, we are not going to convene a trial by media or trial by implication. Similarly, we will not label people criminals simply because something occurred within a geographic distance from their work. In no other walk of life does this happen.
“Beyond implication, no one knows what has happened to this bird so anyone with information should contact Police Scotland and we would encourage them to do so. We also feel that Police should attempt to search the water for the missing tag.
“The moor, which lies away from where the eagle was, is - like most in the Pentlands- the site of a very occasional 50-bird day now due to high levels of public access from Edinburgh. It is operated ostensibly for partridge shooting. Notions that this is an area managed for driven grouse shooting, therefore, are suggestive on the part of those making the allegations; people who campaign openly against grouse shooting. 


“Our understanding is that one of the individuals quoted in the media story works for a website which besmirches grouse shoot management, under the veil of anonymity, and seeks to ban it. We will, therefore, continue to investigate the allegations being made, as far as we can, rather than heaping more unhelpful speculation upon existing speculation.”

SIMPSON GAME LTD ANNOUNCED AS AGM SPONSOR


The SGA is delighted to announce that partners, Simpson Game Ltd, in Newtonmore, will sponsor the 2018 SGA AGM at Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, on Friday March 2nd.
The highland game dealer is one of the UK's leading venison and game suppliers, working with local estates and gamekeepers to supply the finest quality game for UK and overseas markets.
Started in 2006, the company has grown considerably and is about to create a new 'Super chill' facility which will mean greater capacity and the development of more relationships with local estates (see article in the forthcoming magazine).
The SGA is proud to have Simpson Game Ltd on board and looks forward to working with Camey and Tony in the months ahead.
Find out more about the company, here: http://www.simpsongame.co.uk



Thursday, 15 February 2018

TAKE PART IN THE CAIRNGORM FORESTRY CONSULTATION


The Cairngorms National Park is undertaking a public consultation on the future direction of their forestry policy within the Park over the next two decades.
This is likely to overlap many areas of our members' work and we recommend that all those interested in this issue take the time to respond to the consultation.
You can find the details, here: http://cairngorms.co.uk/consultation/foreststrategy/




Thursday, 1 February 2018

2018 SGA AGM WITH SIMPSON GAME LTD: SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED


The SGA is delighted to announce its full speaker line-up for the 2018 AGM with Simpson Game Ltd in Inverness.
The organisation will host members only on Friday March 2nd at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Stadium Road, Inverness IV1 1FF. http://ictfc.com/info/club/the-stadium
The meeting is a key event in the organisation’s calendar, alongside the GWCT Scottish Game Fair (29th June to 1st July) and Moy Highland Field Sports Fair (3rd and 4th August).
The organising committee is delighted to have enlisted an excellent programme of speakers covering a diverse array of topics which are sure to be of interest to the membership.
As is customary, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg will deliver the opening address, with a number  of new SGA initiatives to announce for 2018 and topics such as Scottish Government's deer and grouse reviews to discuss.
Also on the podium will be Simon Lester- former Head Gamekeeper on the Langholm Moor Demonstration project, River Dee Trust Director Mark Bilsby and Laurel Foreman who has added an on-site butchery to her successful organic farm operation at Alford.
Joining them will be crofter and land manager Robbie Rowantree, whose recent Erasmus visit to Norway raised questions about how species management can be broached from a differing perspective. Megan Rowland, assistant land manager, deer stalker and blogger will address the issue of perceptions within the game industry and how we can all play a part in attempting to change them.
Nick Hesford of GWCT will speak to attendees about the SGA/GWCT/SLE mountain hare game bag survey; an important objective for the early part of 2018.  https://www.gwct.org.uk/news/news/2018/january/mountain-hare-survey-returns-after-10-year-absence/

All those hoping to attend the AGM should inform the office as soon as possible on 01738 587 515 or  info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk so arrangements can be made to cater for all in comfort. Lunch will also be served at the close of proceedings, as usual. Please specify, when contacting the office, whether you would prefer Cottage pie or Chicken and Ham pie.


Please put the date in your diary. We look forward to seeing you all on the day.

Langholm Moor Demonstration Project: http://www.langholmproject.com

GWCT Scottish Game Fair: http://www.scottishfair.com
Moy Highland Field Sports Fair: http://www.moyfieldsportsfair.co.uk
Megan Rowland’s blog: https://wayfaringhind.wordpress.com
Event Sponsor- Simpson Game Ltd:http://www.simpsongame.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

OFFICE CLOSURE THIS AFTERNOON

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the SGA office in Perth will be closed this afternoon (Jan 30). It is recommended that members trying to contact the office today should wait until tomorrow, if at all possible.
Members should be aware that calls directed to the office tomorrow (31st Jan) will be answered as normal.
We appreciate your patience and are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Friday, 26 January 2018

SUPPORT OUR MOUNTAIN HARE SURVEY 2018


Have you heard of our 2018 Mountain Hare survey with Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust?
Did you participate in the survey 10 years ago?
Whether you did or not, we want SGA members to get involved in this vital project which will help provide up to date data on hare management in Scotland.
For those on the ground every day, this is a relatively simple recording exercise.
Questionnaire forms will be arriving with members from next week.
Please click here to find out what the survey is all about and how you can help. https://www.gwct.org.uk/wildlife/research/mammals/mountain-hare/scottish-mountain-hare-survey-2017-18/
We will also feature the survey in the Spring edition of Scottish Gamekeeper, due out in February 2018.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

FOX HUNTING CONSULTATION CLOSES SOON


The SGA would like to remind all members and supporters that the Scottish Government consultation into fox hunting closes on 31st January.
The issue is set to be the subject of a private members Bill in due course and the SGA recommends that all those with an interest in seeing the ability to control foxes with the use of hounds retained as an important predator control tool should complete the consultation, which can be found here: https://consult.gov.scot/wildlife-management-and-protected-areas/improving-protection-for-wild-mammals/

AGM 2018

The Tulloch Caledonian Stadium: home to the 2018 SGA AGM.
The 2018 SGA AGM, for members only, will be held on Friday March 2nd 2018 at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Stadium Road, Inverness IV1 1FF. http://ictfc.com/info/club/the-stadium
The meeting is a key event in the organisation’s calendar and once again an interesting mix of speakers are being lined up, including Simon Lester- former Head Gamekeeper on the Langholm Moor Demonstration project*- to entertain and inform attendees on the day. 
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg will deliver the opening address.
All those hoping to attend the AGM should inform the office as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to cater for all in comfort. Lunch will also be served at the close of proceedings, as usual.
We will have further updates on the AGM as we progress towards March, so please keep checking the website and social media for further announcements.
Please put the date in your diary. We look forward to seeing you all on the day.

*Langholm Moor Demonstration Project: http://www.langholmproject.com

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

GENERAL LICENCES 2018


All members should familiarise themselves with the General Licences for Birds for 2018, now on the new SNH website.
You can access the documents, here: https://www.nature.scot/general-licences-birds-valid-2018

Saturday, 23 December 2017

SGA MEMBERS' UPDATE


The SGA membership has expressed concerns to us regarding a recent vote taken by the SNP National Council to curb fox hunting in Scotland and to licence grouse moors.

The relevant motions leading to these decisions appeared to have been motivated by the Scottish figurehead for the organisation, The League Against Cruel Sports; an organisation with an openly stated agenda on both issues, and a history of making donations to political parties.

Decisions on these subjects will have far reaching consequences. During evidence at Holyrood, we made clear our view that a licensing system, centred on a civil burden of proof, would lay open lawful working people to the types of individuals and groups who would view such a decision as a green light to causing further problems for those working within our industry.

It was no surprise to us, therefore, that the news of this National Council vote was being hailed very soon afterwards by such groups, on social media, as a step to ‘inevitable’ licensing and a ‘staging post’ to their end game of banning driven grouse shooting altogether. This, in our view, has always been the tactic, regardless of the veneer.

We have been contacted by many members about this and have written to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to clarify what consequences, if any, this will have for the independent review of grouse moors. We will let members know in due course.

Whether people like shooting or not, our industry produces employment on a vast scale in rural Scotland. These managed moors are the last refuge of some of our iconic flora and fauna and a significant food source for Scotland’s raptor population- and increasingly the human population.
Hard working gamekeepers, with their skills and knowledge, help preserve our unique open landscapes, admired the world over; landscapes which set us apart from many other countries. There are more eagles now in Scotland than there have ever been in recent memory and more raptors regularly feeding on grouse moor areas than anyone will see in many un-managed places with the exception of feeding stations and some islands. The notion put about that these spaces are devoid of raptors is politically-motivated. 

As an organisation, we have made tough and often unpopular decisions in order to contribute to an almost year on year decline in raptor persecution, expelling 6 members in 5 years. We will continue to promote those policies, which focus on legal measures to tackle species conflicts. We continue to argue for people having access to the legal and adaptive tools they have been told by Scottish government agencies exist, but are yet to be delivered. We were highly encouraged, once again, to see a further 8 percent fall in wildlife crime in Scotland although, as ever, there is still much to do.

If licensing is to be pushed through and the vital role of the gamekeeper is to be protected from those intent on seeing this as a green light towards a ban, Scottish Government will have to introduce new measures which would embed impartiality into wildlife crime policing, ensuring any system had a sound evidential basis. They will have to tighten up on people being able to walk over estates wilfully causing trouble in a way which could get gamekeepers’ licenses removed, if this was allowed to pass. 

For the vast majority of our members who are wholly law abiding, we will, and are ready to contest ill-judged elements of this proposal whilst offering Scottish Government solutions to improve the way Scotland’s countryside operates. These are the pledges we can give to you, the members.

In January, everyone has the opportunity to respond to the consultation on fox hunting, which closes on 31st January. You will find details on our website news page. Political noises surrounding this issue seem to suggest proposals may be put forward for a total ban or a reduction to 2 hounds. For those who depend on foot packs to manage foxes in forestry, the latter is as unpalatable as the former. Don’t miss the opportunity to respond. It is now vital!

As the seasons are pushing busily to a close, I and everyone at the SGA would like to wish all members the joys of the season and good health and friendship in 2018.
Our management remains under perpetual scrutiny but despite this attention, by following best practice and operating  diligently and lawfully, we can continue to share the benefits of all we do.

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.