Monday, 15 February 2021

HORRIFIED DOG WALKER FINDS BUTCHERED DEER ON JOHN MUIR TRUST GROUND





A horrified dog walker spoke of her disgust after coming upon a number of deer lying butchered at a popular Highland beauty spot on land owned by a conservation charity.

The female was walking her dog on January 27th in the Nevis Gorge area near Fort William when she found the bloodied torsos of hinds lying dumped in public view on ground owned by John Muir Trust.

Distressed at seeing a female and a calf lying in unnatural positions with back ends cut out, she spoke to a friend who suggested she contacted The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).

The SGA has ruled out poaching due to the way the deer have been butchered, and understands the cull will have been part of the charity’s deer management activity.

In 2011, the SGA called a meeting with the charity after it left 40 dead deer in public view at Ben Nevis, shocking access takers.

It feels that conservation bodies leaving carcasses to rot in public cheapens an iconic species and sends a damaging message as efforts are being made to champion Scottish wild venison. 

The gamekeepers’ group also believe such images of carved up deer will turn the public against deer managers who are doing great conservation work across the country, reducing red deer populations in recent years.

“The lady didn’t want publicity but she was very upset and asked that we look into it because she loves seeing deer. She was basically disgusted,” said SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.

“The area is well visited and what surprised her most was that this was the last thing she thought she would find in an area owned by a nature conservation charity.”

The images were taken within sight of Steall Bothy, around 50 yards off the main walking track.

Best practice certification for deer managers states that carcasses in such proximity to buildings and public areas should be removed.

John Muir Trust’s controversial deer management approach was in the spotlight 5 years ago.

In 2016, the SGA wrote an Open Letter to the First Minister seeking a Parliamentary inquiry after 86 Stags were left to rot on a Knoydart hillside, some with haunches and heads removed.

The charity’s stalkers culled and left the animals, which were found by walkers, and claimed the deer were too difficult to extract at Li and Coire Dhorcail.

In Assynt, local crofters and land managers clashed with Trust deer controllers after over 400 missing deer were reported following heavy Trust culls, leading to significant lost crofter income.

“Every few years these things seem to happen on John Muir Trust ground. It is not isolated, sadly,” said Bill Cowie of the SGA Deer Group. “Regarding the deer in the photographs, there may have been some access problems extracting them from one side but it is known there is access out from the other. Do the public really want to see this when taking daily exercise? If not, they should write to their MSPs.

“There are families in dire straits, with big demand at food banks. The venison left could have fed a family for weeks. 

“Scottish Government has just given £50 000 to promote venison. Is this the signals Scotland should be sending about a resource Government says needs developing?”


*John Muir Trust has claimed the deer were 'dragged from the hill for a photograph' by individuals hostile to them. The individual who sent the SGA the photos did not drag deer from the hill for a photograph. 


If anyone in the local area has more information or concerns about deer culling practice in this area, they can contact the SGA on info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk







Thursday, 4 February 2021

COULD LOST MOUNTAIN HARES RETURN TO LANGHOLM MOOR?

 Gamekeepers seek talks with community group on Mountain Hare translocation proposal

Mountain hare on managed moorland by Michael Callan.

Gamekeepers plan to speak to the group behind the Langholm community buy-out to discuss a scheme to return the iconic mountain hare to its former moorland home.

The Langholm Initiative completed south Scotland’s biggest ever community buy-out when it purchased 5200 acres of Langholm Moor, Tarras Valley and associated properties from Buccleuch Estates for £3.8m last October.

Legal paperwork was due for completion on January 31st, with the group seeking to create Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, which they hope will become a haven for nature.

Now gamekeepers in neighbouring upland areas hope to set up a meeting with the group to discuss the possibility of hares being reintroduced to the moor to kick-start a regional recovery.

The mountain or ‘blue’ hare is Scotland’s only native hare and was a common sight at Langholm when the moor was managed for red grouse shooting.

Now fully protected, the native hares became extinct at the site around the early 2000s after gamekeepers had lost their jobs following the Joint Raptor Study (1), undertaken at Langholm.

Despite mountain hares’ conservation status now being classed as ‘unfavourable’, driven grouse moors in nearby Lammermuir and Moorfoot hills boast a healthy surplus.

Their plan is to discuss the potential for them to act as ‘donors’ to help re-boot the species where they were once a cherished part of the moorland fauna.

Hares would be ‘live trapped’ on grouse moors to be translocated to moorlands with appropriate habitat, in a bid to re-develop a breeding population.

Similar translocations, which follow a conservation Code, have allowed beavers to be captured and moved from parts of Scotland where they cause significant damage to farmland.

This has allowed other regions to benefit, also reducing numbers of problem animals potentially culled under licence.

“Mountain hares were common when gamekeepers worked at Langholm. There is potential for a win-win, here, for returning lost species, for Reserve visitors to enjoy and for getting hares back to favourable conservation status in Scotland,” said Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

“There is a willingness for gamekeepers to discuss this with the community group and we hope a virtual meeting can take place after they get their feet under the desk.

“If all the tests can be met, we could see mountain hares back at Langholm. That would be a special achievement. If they were to re-establish successfully, it could also have a longer term benefit as a food source for the golden eagles which have been reintroduced to the south of Scotland.”

While gamekeepers have been criticised for culling mountain hares, research shows grouse moors can house populations up to 35 times more abundant than non-managed moorland due to predator management and legal burning of heather which renews their food supply (1)*.

When hares reach high densities on grouse moors, however, they become highly susceptible to disease caused by gut worms which can see them die off in large numbers as it spreads.

“Now that the new laws to protect mountain hares are passed, there is no longer an ability to control hare populations on our moors,” said Mark Ewart, Co-Ordinator of The Southern Uplands Moorland Group.

“It makes sense to use surplus populations from grouse moors to try to re-establish the species elsewhere, or to build up fragmented populations so they become more resilient.

“Research points to there being not enough recruitment, in areas away from grouse moors, to sustain the species in the longer run. Rather than watch them die on our moors from disease, which is pointless, it makes sense to use the surplus to help the species recover.”


*(1) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10344-019-1273-7?shared-article-renderer. Spatial and temporal variation in mountain hare abundance in relation to red grouse management in Scotland



  • The Joint Raptor Study was carried out between 1992 and 1997. It concluded that raptor predation at Langholm reduced Autumn red grouse abundance by 50%, which led to the cessation of commercially viable grouse shooting. Gamekeepers lost their jobs and in the intervening years between the Joint Raptor Study and the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (2008 to 2018)- (when no gamekeepers were employed)- mountain hares disappeared from the moor, Hen Harriers declined from 20 to 2 and Wading birds also disappeared.


  • Mountain hares were introduced to the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland in earlier centuries. They are a favoured food source for eagles and wildcats. Current evidence suggests there is little sign of mountain hare increases in other areas of Scotland beyond grouse moor core areas and, as hares do not disperse naturally beyond one mile or so, bolstering populations with no or low densities could produce a net conservation gain. Translocation is also an alternative to lethal control which is acceptable to the conservation community.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Viewpoint: DOING CONSERVATION FOR THE SAKE OF IT

A QUESTION: Who is doing conservation just now- just for the good of it?

The Scottish media has been alive with stories this week about the need to save the Celtic rainforests of the west coast before they disappear completely.


This project is a worthy one. There are a lot of small voluntary community groups, within wider alliances, who will no doubt be working hard to ensure their local asset survives. They will have worries. Good luck to them in their endeavours. 


The west coast sites are described as even rarer than a tropical rainforest. The sites are now in real danger and Scotland has an area left which is only ‘slightly larger than Edinburgh’. 


Rare mosses, liverworts and lichens are found on these sites of international importance; the best remaining sites in all of Europe.


One of the present projects up for funding is being led by RSPB Scotland. 


An article in the Herald on 27th January, stated that the project was facing a potential funding gap of £500 000. The usual public grant applications have not (yet) come through and there may even be a crisis if there is no match funding.


The article states, in relation to the funding gap, that RSPB ‘can’t afford the risk of underwriting’ it in the current financial climate. 


Paragraph from The Herald's story.


The current financial climate is very difficult for everyone, granted, but this story highlights an elephant in a room when it comes to conservation.


Is anyone actually up for it, if they need to just get the hands dirty, roll the sleeves up and just do it or does ‘urgent’ conservation work have to just wait until someone somewhere signs a cheque, so the work can either start or keep going?


One of the story commentators, a member of the public, wrote. “They don’t have the money and neither do I. Nor should we depend on charity. If money is needed then take it from those who have it. High taxation from those millionaires who have it is the only answer.”


The commentator was making a case for higher wealth taxes. That point may be worthy of further debate, depending on your view. However, if you extend this to conservation funding, who are today’s millionaires ?


RSPB’s income last year was circa £150m. They are one of the biggest conservation charities in the world. They have eye-watering ‘rainy day' cash reserves sitting in the bank, unspent, annually, yet they are constantly advertising for more members, more donations and profiling more projects which could net public hand-outs. They are giants; Googles and Amazons of conservation’s establishment.


RSPB saw its grant income rise last year to nearly £25m

Times are tough. No doubt. There are important public services now rendered defunct by Covid-19; services which will devastate people relying on them, from education to mental health charities which could make a life-and-death difference.


In our sector, impacts, too, have been concerning. A financial study of 23 grouse estates by Scotland’s regional moorland groups showed each holding lost £73 000 in surrendered shoot income yet those 23 estates forked out £8.98m to keep their operations going, helping- in turn- to keep small related community businesses in remote areas, enjoying much needed trade.

Losses all round, then, but a commitment not to down tools and hope the public purse picked up the slack. https://www.insider.co.uk/news/grouse-moor-estates-take-17-23152410



Despite losses and high overheads, only one junior gamekeeper was placed on the Government furlough scheme. That is significant and, as a gamekeeper body, is pleasing. RSPB, with their near £150m income, placed half its staff on the furlough scheme, introduced by Boris Johnson’s government.


While gamekeepers were out managing foxes, crows and stoats in all weathers to benefit game species and ground-nesting birds of conservation concern (it must be conservation because the RSPB do it *), stoat boxes in Orkney lay unchecked- with decaying bodies of stoats in them- and trap boxes, paid for from the millions and millions of public funding, weathered for weeks in the rain (see image). Trappers were furloughed, although it doesn’t take more than one person, out in the open, to check a trap, as those who have done it will know.


Photograph by Orkney resident

The game sector has been under a barrage of attack, from all angles and very often from RSPB, for decades. Criticism can be justified, of course, but there are deeper motives at play.


Yet, like them or not, whilst conservation NGOs wait for grant applications from Brussels (or elsewhere) to land or fall, gamekeepers are out there every day, getting things done.


Despite losses this year, estates have forked out to remove bracken, to improve access which the public also benefits from, they have continued to undertake the type of landscape scale predator management that makes a crucial difference to red listed species, as well as protects their ‘business’ interest. They have managed fox populations; many of them are out into the small hours just now, eating into family and social time that they will never get back. 

Bird boxes and barn spaces for owls, mink trapping and grey squirrel control has been undertaken by Scottish gamekeepers, free of charge, on top of the 12 hour days private finance pays for (not public grants). Many estates across the UK blocked drainage ditches to wet moors out of their own pockets; drainage previously subsidised by government for upland agriculture.


Crow (and fox) control helps reduce damage to farm livestock

They are doing conservation for the good of it and, granted, there will be a lot of other individuals and groups, too, playing their own part in voluntary conservation. Just now, small birds, struggling in the snow and the winter hungry gap, are being sustained by food put out for game birds (and paid for by estates shouldering losses due to Covid-19). https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/pdfs/SGA_NGO_REPORT.pdf




At the same time, individuals and anti-shooting campaigners - some linked directly to conservation NGOs- are spending their time trying to have shooting closed down, bit by bit; their personal antagonism blinding them to the fact that gamekeepers, farmers and crofters are some of the best conservationists and field-scientists we have left and ought to be engaged with. They contain a wealth of knowledge that even the vast financial reserves of the RSPB could not buy. They are part of the solution.


Campaigners have their prerogatives. There is certainly no sign they will stop any time soon. By the time they’ve killed off shooting (and with it the financial lifeline which sustains landscape scale management across the countryside), they will better hope the state can fund all ‘conservation’ and the pockets of the average UK tax payer have grown much, much deeper.


If there is an unwillingness for conservation’s mainstream to commit on projects to save some of the best sites in Europe, on our own doorstep, someone’s going to have to start making an awful lot more money if there’s any chance of exiting this 'Nature Emergency'.


* (image below shows RSPB predator kills 2019).








Friday, 22 January 2021

AGM ANNOUNCEMENT AND RURAL WORKERS' PROTEST DATE


Dear members,


we hope you are keeping well in these strange times.


Like every business or organisation, the pandemic has forced us to rethink plans for 2021. 


Obviously our AGM is not far away. It is an occasion we look forward to every year, giving us all a chance to meet up and discuss things.


There will still be an AGM on Friday 5th March but it will take place online rather than in person. 


As usual, it will be for members only and we will give you more details near the time about how you can log in securely and watch the events taking place. 


With the Holyrood election happening soon, a new element to the AGM this year will be a Political Hustings, with MSPs giving their take on how they can represent you, the members, in Holyrood, and answering some of your questions. If you would like to table a question to any of the main parties, email info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk

We cannot guarantee to be able to ask all of them, given time limits, but we will try to ask as many as we can.


We will update you on who will be attending, from each political party, when this is finalised. 


Another element we have to consider is our Protest. We are delighted to announce that this will take place on Friday 19th March. 


The Rural Workers’ Protest 2021, #RWP21, organised by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, is an opportunity for everyone across the countryside, on land and river, to unite and find their voice.


The pandemic, again, will debar meetings of people in a physical space but we are working hard to ensure we can deliver a Demonstration which will send a strong message to Holyrood. It may not be our only one in 2021, depending on how the virus dictates things.


If you want to participate in #RWP21email us on info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk and we can tell you how you can help and what actions you can take. 


Have a great weekend.


Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg.

 

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Recent Update From Scottish Government As of 5th January 2021

The main bodies involved with Scottish shooting and game management have produced information about the current lockdown and the end of the 2020-21 gamebird season. This is available on request. Please contact the SGA Office on 01738 587515

Monday, 21 December 2020

Update on Coronavirus Restrictions From 26th December 2020

 

Following the announcement from the First Minister the following guidance will be in place for the Scottish Mainland and the Ise of Skye as they will be moving to Level 4. The Scottish Islands will move to Level 3

What does this mean for our members?

As of Saturday 26th December 2020 People living in Level 3 or Level 4 areas MUST NOT travel out of their local authority area, except for certain essential purposes. (to check your Level please use the following link https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/) Also , people living elsewhere in Scotland MUST NOT travel into Level 3 or Level 4 areas, except for essential purposes.

Travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK

To suppress the spread of COVID-19 it is essential that, with limited exceptions, there is no travel to or from areas where higher numbers of people may be carrying the virus.

On 20 November travel restrictions were put into law.

If people dont abide by the travel restrictions, there is a risk that the virus will spread to areas where it is less common and we may have to return to national restrictions.

People who live in a Level 3 or 4 local authority area in Scotland are now required to stay in that area unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel, such as work, education, or welfare reasons.

Travelling around Scotland

If you live or work anywhere where there are protective measures in place – at whatever level – you should not travel to another area to avoid them.

If you live in a Level 4 local authority area you must, by law, remain within that area unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) you should also keep journeys within the area to an absolute minimum if you have to travel for essential purposes, you should follow the guidance on travelling safely.

If you live in a Level 3 local authority area you must, by law, remain within that area unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) if you have to travel for essential purposes, you should follow the guidance on travelling safely

You can find out which parts of Scotland are in Levels 3 and 4 via the postcode checker  https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/

Travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

Under current Scottish law, given the state of the epidemic in those countries, unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) you must not travel between Scotland and:

England

Northern Ireland

Wales

County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland

Jersey

However, we continue to advise against all but essential travel at this time.

You should be aware that rules may apply in those places that may restrict your ability to enter or travel within each country, or which may require you to self-isolate for a period of time after your arrival or return from the UK. Please check any restrictions that may be in place in your destination before you travel. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-travel-and-transport/

Recreational shooting activities including target shooting, game shooting, deer stalking and wildfowling would NOT be an essential purpose for travel.

Shooting related work such as beating and picking-up on shoot days; essential bird and mammal pest control to protect crops or livestock would be an essential purpose to travel.  Pest control activities would be as follows: Shooting or trapping of pest bird species under general licence, management of rodents and rabbits; deer management as part of a plan agreed with and requested by the landowner. Also game management or gamekeeping activities such as looking after game birds, habitat management and pest/predator control.

Members in Level 4 need to be aware of the following change.

As of Saturday 26th December 2020 shooting will No longer be exempt from socialising restrictions in Level 4 areas.  This means that shooting activities may only take place with up to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 2 households.

For Levels 3

In Level 3 multi-person shoots will be able to continue providing they follow the Covid-19 guidance framework for country sports https://countrysportscotland.com/framework-of-appropriate-covid-19-precautions-for-country-sports-updated-october-2020.

However, persons living in Level 3 areas will not be permitted to travel to other Level areas for any purpose other than essential purposes, which does not include organised shooting sports.

We will be updating this guidance as and when we get new information from the Scottish Government so please keep an eye on the website and social media site for updated information.

Should our members have any other queries or require a Risk Assessment Template please do not hesitate to contact the office and they will endeavour to assist you.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Update on Coronavirus Restrictions From 11th December 2020 As of 6PM

 

While there have been changes to those in Level 4 will be moving to Level 3 as of Friday 11th December so the restrictions below will apply in Level 3 Areas.

What does this mean for our members?

As of Friday 20th November People living in Level 3 or Level 4 areas MUST NOT travel out of their local authority area, except for certain essential purposes. (to check your tier please use the following link https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/) Also , people living elsewhere in Scotland MUST NOT travel into Level 3 or Level 4 areas, except for essential purposes.

Travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK

Restrictions and advice on what you can do and where you can travel are also in place within England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The current Scottish Government guidance, given the state of the epidemic across the UK is that people avoid any unnecessary travel between Scotland and England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

This applies to people who live in Scotland and to people who live elsewhere in the UK who are thinking of coming to Scotland.

This may change as the virus spreads or is suppressed in different areas, and as the rules and guidance in place there change. Please check the Scottish Government website before starting any journey. 

If you have to travel for essential purposes, follow the guidance on travelling safely which can be found via the following link https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-travel-and-transport/.

Recreational shooting activities including target shooting, game shooting, deer stalking and wildfowling would NOT be an essential purpose for travel.

Shooting related work such as beating and picking-up on shoot days; essential bird and mammal pest control to protect crops or livestock would be an essential purpose to travel.  Pest control activities would be as follows Shooting or trapping of pest bird species under general licence, management of rodents and rabbits; deer management as part of a plan agreed with and requested by the landowner. Also game management or gamekeeping activities such as looking after game birds, habitat management and pest/predator control.

Members in Tier 4 need to be aware of the following change.

As of Friday 20th November shooting will No longer be exempt from socialising restrictions in Level 4 areas.  This means that shooting activities may only take place with up to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 2 house holds.

For Levels 1, 2 and 3

In Levels 1, 2 and 3 multi-person shoots will be able to continue providing they follow the Covid-19 guidance framework for country sports https://countrysportscotland.com/framework-of-appropriate-covid-19-precautions-for-country-sports-updated-october-2020.

However, persons living in Level 3 areas will not be permitted to travel to other Level areas for any purpose other than essential purposes, which does not include organised shooting sports.

Persons from Level 1 and 2 areas will be able to travel to other Level 1 and 2 areas, including travelling through Level 3 or 4 areas to get to their destination.

We will be updating this guidance as and when we get new information from the Scottish Government so please keep an eye on the website and social media site for updated information.

Should our members have any other queries or require a Risk Assessment Template please do not hesitate to contact the office and they will endeavour to assist you.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 3 December 2020

WANT TO SAVE MOUNTAIN HARES? TRANSLOCATE FROM GROUSE MOORS


Gamekeepers are advocating a conservation plan to save the mountain hare which would see the native mammals translocated from grouse moors to areas which have lost viable populations.

The countryside workers believe grouse estates could act as donors of live trapped hares which could be used to rebuild populations where land use change has shrunk their range.

This summer Scottish Parliament voted to protect the mountain hare and end all management of the species, unless under specific licences.

Gamekeepers previously managed populations in the open season to reduce disease and tick numbers and to protect habitats. Organised hare shoots also brought money to the local economy and food for the food chain.

Land managers are now in discussions with Scottish Government about how a licensing system may operate but believe licensed translocations should be on the table in talks, alongside lethal control options.

Species translocations have been used successfully in conservation with donor beavers from the Tay this week building their first dams in Exmoor for 400 years.

Pine martens, Capercaillie and Sea Eagles have all seen UK populations bolstered at various times through translocation.

Mountain hares are currently in unfavourable status but latest research shows grouse moors can contain populations up to 35 times higher than non-managed moors.

Whilst gamekeepers believe full protection is not the solution for hare conservation, they feel the surfeit of hares on grouse moors could be used positively to help expand the species’ shrunken Scottish range elsewhere.

“Our opposition to the Parliament’s decision is well known, especially if conservation was the principal purpose. However, politicians decided, so it’s time to move on," said Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg.

“Traditionally, hares were managed on moors when their numbers got very high.

“One consequence of that population reduction was that the remaining hares were healthy and less susceptible to die-off events from the close spread of the gut parasites which they are highly susceptible to, although this was experienced on Perthshire and Donside grouse moors when deep snow made management impossible and hares died in big numbers.

“Obviously, hare management is no longer an option, unless through lethal control under licence. Instead of culling as the only option- and the environment NGOs made their views clear on this- why not use a quota of these hares from the remaining core grouse moor areas to expand the hare range in places which used to have them but no longer do because the management, or mismanagement, shrunk their habitat? It would also lessen the chance of hares dying off from disease.

“If the point of protection is conservation, this should be roundly supported. It would also avoid a similar scenario to beavers which were protected, then campaigners opposed them being legally killed, in number, under licence.”

Gamekeepers believe the mountain hare faces more threats now, since protection was announced, because of Climate Emergency mitigations.

Scottish Government has increasing annual targets for subsidised tree planting but mountain hares eat young trees, and new plantings will squeeze their already contracting range.

“The loss of the hare’s preferred habitat through afforestation and regeneration has been continuous over decades. That will get worse," added Mr Hogg.

“There will be a need to cull more hares under licence, as a response to climate concerns, and encroachment onto their habitat will increase as more areas are planted or re-stocked. This is why translocating a quota of hares to areas which want them, and previously sustained them, will make them more resilient generally.

“It is entirely wrong that gamekeepers should be associated negatively with mountain hares when they have managed populations for centuries and still have more hares than anyone else. 

“This is an opportunity for grouse moors to be positively associated with their improved conservation status, something which the Parliament desires.”

 

Friday, 27 November 2020

PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS FOR 2021

The SGA has dealt with an unprecedented number of calls, messages and other communications through the night, since the Scottish Government decision to move to an immediate licensing of driven grouse moors.

As members will know, the SGA wrote to council officials in Edinburgh in February for permission to hold a protest demonstration outside Scottish Parliament.

Due to being placed in a national lockdown, that planned protest could not go ahead, despite travel plans having been made by many.

Covid-19 has meant sacrifices for all and our members were in agreement that no protest should be held as the country deals with the pandemic.

The SGA fully intends to honour that. However, following yesterday's events, it is clear that members wish their democratic right to protest not to be denied.

With this in mind, and recognising the country is still in the grip of a health emergency, we will today begin planning localised direct protests so that our members can have their say.

We will keep members updated over the coming weeks, with protests set to happen in 2021 and ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections.

Chairman Alex Hogg said: "People take to the streets when they feel they are no longer being listened to. That is where our members are right now and this is the message we have received loud and clear since yesterday's events in Holyrood, and leading up to this.

"Since the Scottish Parliament was built, few sectors have been scrutinised like ours, not just the grouse sector but deer, low ground shoots, salmon rivers, everything to do with our way of life. It is relentless and it is affecting people and the health of their loved ones. We are now being blamed for climate change and the nature 'emergency' by politicians in Scotland's Parliament. When things get to that level, it is dangerous. All perspective has been lost.

"Our members will no longer be political low hanging fruit or a community to be sacrificed because some politicians want to right old wrongs that we had nothing to do with. Our members are living, breathing human beings with hopes and fears like everyone else but they are being treated like a minority group who are fair game to be attacked at every turn, even in the chambers of our Parliament.

"We will engage with Scottish Government on licensing, when the time is right, but our members want to have their say and it is only correct that they should be allowed to do so."


Thursday, 26 November 2020

CHAIRMAN COMMENT: GROUSE MOOR LICENSING

 


Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “This decision will anger our community. It will not be easily forgotten. Our members have effectively had targets painted on their backs, today. 

Our responsibility now is protect them from spurious claims sure to come their way from those seeking to end grouse shooting in Scotland and to have licences taken away.

“Ironically, those who lobbied so hard for licensing have no interest in seeing it being a success. For them, this was always a vehicle to agitate for a full ban. Scottish Parliament legislators should not be naive in thinking otherwise.

“I am angry beyond expression at the way a community of working people is being treated today in this country and the strain they and their families are constantly having to face as they cope with never-ending scrutiny and inquiry driven by elite charities with big influence over politicians and axes to grind against a people who produce so much for Scotland yet ask little back.

“If we are not to lose an important element of Scottish rural life, gamekeepers require some substantive recognition from Parliament for the many benefits they deliver and not the endless battering they perpetually experience.”