Friday 28 August 2015


 Rat Control Course for Gamekeepers 

Monday 21 September 2015
1000 – c.1600 hrs
Horseupcleugh, Longformacus, Berwickshire

Rat Control Course for Gamekeepers

Wednesday 23 September 2015
1000 – c.1600 hrs

Hopetoun Estate, West Lothian



SGA Fishing Group members, please note, we are hosting our first official group meeting at the SGA office on Sunday 6th September at 10am.
On the agenda will be the Wild Fisheries Reform process and SGA involvement/progress to date, building the group’s delivery arm and laying out the group’s policy objectives for the weeks and months ahead.
We hope to see representatives from the Tay ghillies group at the meeting. Anyone coming from the north, please contact Duncan Ferguson, who can assist with transport. (m) 07823 334747  (e)

The tight timescale of the Wild Fisheries Reform process, coupled with work commitments on the rivers, has prevented a meeting of the group until now.
We hope as many members as possible can attend.

Date: Sunday September 6th 2015.
Venue: Inveralmond Business Centre, 6 Auld Bond Road, South Inveralmond, Perth PH1 3FX.

Please report/buzz side entrance to the main car park, signposted for Balfour Beatty. 


Please Be Aware The SGA Office will be closed Monday 31st August and will re-open on Tuesday 1st September.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


An experienced bird ringer believes conservationists need to work more with gamekeepers after he recorded trend-bucking numbers of rare owls on grouse moor areas.
For two decades Neil Morrison, a ‘hobby’ owl specialist, licensed to ring birds by BTO Scotland, has developed relationships with gamekeepers and landowners in Perthshire.
That partnership has helped produce valuable data, with numbers of endangered short eared owls in three neighbouring glens- comprising grouse moor and farmland- being amongst the best in mainland UK.
At least 18 pairs of the amber-listed birds of prey have bred in the last two years and Kestrels, declining alarmingly across Britain, are thriving, with eleven breeding pairs recorded since 2014.
Neil’s communication with the gamekeeping staff also recently enabled BBC Natural World programmers to film owls hunting, with researchers writing to praise the abundance of wildlife.
Now, on the eve of the 2015 grouse season, the raptor study group member believes warring factions should learn to put differences aside, so birdlife can be the winner.
“All my interest is in birds. I have never got involved in countryside politics but, personally, the benefits I have reaped from working with gamekeepers and landowners has been far greater than I initially thought.
“All professions have good and bad but, from my experience, gamekeepers tend to get tarred with the same brush. For me, I couldn’t have worked on long-term projects without them.
“The owls have an amazing record of success in these three glens and it must be to do with the land management by the gamekeepers because, to get ground-nesters to be as successful as they can be, rats, stoats, weasels and foxes can be a problem.
“The gamekeepers control their numbers and, from over 80 nests I’ve counted over the years, I haven’t lost many to predators at all.
“The patch work quilt of heather, created by muirburn for grouse management, also seems to be working for the short eared owls, to a lesser extent the kestrels, and also for the barn owls, which we suspect are hunting the moorland more than we realise.
“I know that bickering between both sides has gone on for a long time and it doesn’t seem to be changing which probably needs new approaches. There are trust issues on both sides.
“In my view, progress can only come from working together. Ultimately, the birds have to come first.”
Through regular communication with gamekeepers, Neil has been able to spot and study all four species of native owls breeding in the glens.
Estates have helped him place mist nets on the grouse moors and he has undertaken radio-tracking, tagging and ringing programmes.
As well as short and long eared owls and barn owls, he regularly spies other birds of prey and smaller rare birds such as Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Kestrel.
“Good communication with gamekeepers has worked very well for me over the years. They know the land better than anyone and have pointed me in the right direction many times, saving me valuable time in the relatively short but hectic breeding season.
“From the small amount of literature available, this is one of the best places in mainland Britain for short eared owls and the kestrels do incredibly well. We regularly ring broods of five or six whereas, where I live, the kestrels are in sharp decline.
“There is a healthy population of many species and a lot of that is down to the management.”
Ronnie Kippen of the The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, one of the gamekeepers who has worked with Neil said: “There is a growing appetite amongst gamekeepers to work with bird experts willing to communicate and build trust rather than campaign.
“The best results come when there is good communication between the bird experts and the estates. Our members are keen to work with the BTO to have their wildlife recorded because there are many successes for vulnerable species.”


Commenting on the discovery of a shot Hen Harrier near Daer Reservoir, Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg, said: “There has been a lot of good partnership work recently regarding Hen Harriers in Scotland so this discovery is obviously a setback. We are disappointed not to have known about it, as a PAW partner, until now, given the discovery was made in April. As an organisation, we condemn wildlife crime but it would be wrong to pass judgement on who might be responsible until more is known. We would encourage our members to assist Police Scotland with their inquiries."

Friday 7 August 2015


Two individuals who launched the careers of young land managers and helped drive up standards in Scotland’s gamekeeping profession have jointly landed a new conservation award.
John Waters (72) and Iris MacKenzie (65) were presented with the inaugural Ronnie Rose award by Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair yesterday (fri).
The award was introduced by the SGA this year in memory of acclaimed Scottish wildlife manager and author, Ronnie Rose, who passed away at his home in Eskdalemuir last December.
The judging panel received nominations from all over Scotland for the honour, which recognises individuals who have made a lasting contribution to conservation, species management or rural education.
John and Iris worked together for many years at the now North Highland College UHI in Thurso, helping students gain practical placements and learning opportunities on the college’s early gamekeeping course.
The first of its kind in the highlands, the course helped launch generations of young land managers, regularly achieving a 100 per cent success rate for students moving into full-time employment.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “What John and Iris achieved at Thurso is remarkable. They left no stone unturned trying to help youngsters make their way and there are gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies across Scotland, and their families, that have a lot to thank them for today.
“We received many high quality nominations, from all aspects of land management but, in the end, the decision was unanimous and we are delighted to be recognising both John and Iris in our Year of the Rural Worker, 2015.”
Both John and Iris worked on educational projects at Thurso with Ronnie Rose MBE, whose pioneering work in wildlife management and forestry are now staples of forestry best practice.
“Ronnie did a lot of work at the college, playing a big part in establishing exchange visits to Denmark and Sweden. We shared a lot of the same ideas and approaches,” said John, who worked as a lecturer on the gamekeeping course for 23 years until his retirement.
“Ronnie was education all the way but he was adamant the students should never forget the basics which was the practical, hands-on work and that is what we focused on.
“When I started at Thurso, the course had been running one year, mostly with skill-seekers, but a lot of good kids have now gone through that course and have gone on to senior positions. Many still keep in touch.”
Iris worked for 12 years as Training Organiser in the Gamekeeping section and helped place youngsters at estates Scotland-wide.
Known affectionately as ‘Auntie Iris’, her role helping the pupils also extended to amateur psychology and moral support. 
“A lot of the youngsters were only 16 years old and needed a bit of extra help. John and myself would travel all over Scotland to find placements for them. It gave me a great deal of pleasure seeing them progress. We regularly had all the students going on from the course straight into work and a lot of them are now Head Gamekeepers.”
Ron Rose junior is delighted the pair have received recognition in the first year of the award.
“The Rose family would like to take this opportunity to thank the SGA for sponsoring an award in recognition of Ronnie’s  lifetime of work in wildlife management and conservation by acknowledging and celebrating the work of others who have devoted their time and energy to similar effect.
"We are delighted that the first winners are John Waters and Iris Mackenzie. We are sure there are many former students out their now working in countryside management who would like to join us in acknowledging the significant contribution they have made and congratulate them in receiving this award.” 

Tuesday 4 August 2015


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has a clear and consistent policy on wildlife crime.
It would be inappropriate in this case for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association to comment until the legal process has concluded.