Wednesday 19 June 2013


A team of 8 exhausted Inverness-shire gamekeepers have raised almost £8000 for soliders, youth and community projects in Scotland by walking 52 miles in 24 hours.The team ‘Highland Keepers’, comprising game and wildlife managers from around the Loch Ness area, completed the Cateran Yomp- a 52 mile non-stop hike- at the weekend.Yesterday they were counting their blisters and pledges, with the sums raised going towards ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, The Prince’s Trust and The Alliance Trust Staff Foundation.The group came together for the stomp through the Perthshire and Angus glens following a request by the boss of Culachy Estate, Fort Augustus.Culachy sponsors community youth projects like Shinty and keepers Scott Bremner and Raymond Robertson responded to the call, gathering together like-minded ‘yompers’.Culachy Estate paid for the team’s accommodation and travel and the group leaders were happy to see the finish line at 4.20am on Sunday morning.“We got a group of willing keepers together from the Strath, totally underestimated the challenge, and went for it,” smiled Scott Bremner (36), a committee member of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who finished in 21 hrs, 26 minutes.“Most of the guys are fit because of their jobs with deer stalking and grouse but, to do 52 miles in a day is a different story.“On some days we might cover 10 to 15 miles but with stops for spying deer and suchlike. But with this we never stopped at all, other than for a cup of tea.“The hardest part was probably walking through the darkness with the packs on, especially because most of that section was in woodland and you are carrying a lot of stuff.“When you see some of the injured soldiers that come back injured from Afghanistan, though, we certainly have no cause to grumble over a few blisters and sore feet.“We are really glad to have done it and to have raised the amount we have.”Scott, Raymond and their fellow yompers, Norman Stoddart, Andrew Reid, Derek Brown, Malcolm Downie, Jonathan Carslaw and Allan MacDiarmid would like to thank all donors who helped them.The fund was swelled by a donation of £250 from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

Tuesday 18 June 2013


SGA Statement: Gamekeeper Peter Finley Bell fined £4450 for poisoning a buzzard and possessing illegal pesticides. A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said: “The SGA and its 5300 members condemn illegal poisoning. The SGA works with PAW partners, and will continue to do so, to eradicate this activity. “The SGA advocates those facing problems with predation of livestock by protected predators should only look to the legal routes and options open to them rather than taking the law into their own hands.”

Friday 14 June 2013


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has urged government to stop procrastinating over tail docking, with a leading vet claiming the ban on docking of working dogs’ tails should end. TV vet Neil McIntosh had never witnessed spaniel tail injuries in his west coast practice until tail docking was outlawed in Scotland in 2006. Now he believes the law should be overturned, solely for working dogs, because of the distress adult animals endure when their tails must be amputated due to damage. Although tail docking is now illegal across the UK, Scotland is the only country which did not draft exemptions for working dogs. Breeds such as spaniels, retrievers and terriers work instinctively in dense cover and are susceptible to tail damage. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has campaigned that failing to exempt these dogs seriously compromises animal welfare. Despite being given assurances by government last November that science to review the ban would be available ‘in weeks’, nothing has been done. “From a pro-Veterinary point of view, I would rather dock 100 working puppies’ tails at three days old than 1 adult working dog,” said Veterinary Surgeon Neil McIntosh. “Since the ban came into place, I’ve seen a large number of Spaniels, including Police dogs, requiring tail amputations. Prior to the ban, I didn’t see any.” Before 2006, many working dogs had their tails legally shortened at three days’ old, a minor operation which protected them against injury in adult life. That can still be done in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but not Scotland. “Done properly at 3 days’ old, it is literally a quick snip,” said McIntosh. “For an adult working dog, it is different. It requires anaesthesia, incision, ligation of bleeding vessels and suturing. You have to bandage the tail repeatedly for a week then remove the suture in the knowledge that breakdown of the wound is possible again. It is very distressing.” Fiona Humphries, Small Animal Clinical Director at Fair City Vet Group, has undertaken tail amputations of adult dogs for medical reasons as part of her work. She also has a seven year old Sprocker called Potter- not a working dog- who has required many courses of antibiotics and painkillers for an injury to the tip of his tail. Her experience, both as a Vet and pet owner, has given Fiona a rounded understanding of the issue. Regardless of the breed, she knows the docking of the tail of a pup by a vet at 3 days’ old is much less distressing than the surgery to remove part of the tail of an adult dog. “When the ban first took effect, I welcomed it. In the light of experience, I now have a slightly different opinion. “It is not a black and white issue. A percentage of the dogs we have seen with tail injuries have not been solely working dogs. Dogs, for example, that are ‘waggy tailed’ dogs, and not necessarily working dogs, will get tail injuries. “However, I think the wording of the legislation in England is sensible and I think it is positive that people have a choice. “When there is no choice, people are made to feel like criminals and it can be the same with vets. It puts vets in an awkward position because, if taking a tail off is the right thing to do, other people can still be very opinionated about it.” Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg says it is now time the Scottish Government acted. “We were told seven months ago by the government that peer-reviewed science on this would be ready in weeks. As this process stutters to a halt working dogs across Scotland are suffering excruciatingly painful injuries. “People are angry. In Northern Ireland, England and Wales they obviously had evidence to exempt working dogs. What is different about Scottish dogs?”

Thursday 6 June 2013


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association promotes best practice for all of its members. Please find here the 2013 General Licences. As has been mentioned before on the website and in Scottish Gamekeeper, please take the time to acquaint yourself with all aspects of the licences. The SGA has also included, in our Best Practice section under Education and Training, the sections which will be particularly relevant to all members involved in game and wildlife management. It should be noted that these sections should not be read in isolation from the General Licences 2013 in their entirety. It is recommended, therefore, that members familiarize themselves with all aspects of the new licences.


The working pony is a treasured tradition on many of Scotland’s sporting estates and deer forests, and it’s fitting that the 25th Anniversary GWCT Scottish Game Fair hosts the first staging of a ‘concourse d’elegance’ for working ponies in memory of the late Fred Taylor, Head Stalker on Invermark Estate who died last year. Entry for the competition is now open, and estates and deer forests with working ponies are encouraged to take part. The event takes place on Sunday 7 July. All ponies entered should be accompanied by a stalker/ghillie in estate or sporting wear, and ponies should be turned out in appropriate tack for the hill, either to carry a stag, or panniers, or other hill work. Every pony entered must be working or have worked on an estate or deer forest during the stalking/shooting season. A preliminary judging will be followed on Sunday afternoon by a parade in the main ring, final judging and awards of rosettes and prizes. The main award is the Fred Taylor Trophy, sponsored by the Earl of Dalhousie, and a set of photographs of the winning pony at work by acclaimed sporting photographer Glyn Satterley. The event is organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust in conjunction with the Association of Deer Management Groups. Application forms and other entry details can be obtained from: Dick PlayfairThe Association of Deer Management GroupsTel: 0131 445 5570E


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association promotes best practice within its membership. We have downloaded the list of Spring Traps which are legal for use under The Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 2011. Members should only ever use approved traps and the document acts as a legal guide in all such matters. We have made the Order available as a download under the Best Practice section of our website under Education and Training.