Wednesday 11 May 2016


Spaniel owner Mo Baillie discusses with the BBC Landward team why, for animal welfare reasons, she would not put a dog with a full tail into work.

Members and all those who have engaged with the SGA for a change to legislation to allow for working dogs tails to be shortened to protect them from injury will be interested to know that the issue was covered on BBC Landward at the weekend.
The SGA hand-delivered a petition to Richard Lochhead MSP in 2015, signed by over 4100 people across Scotland, asking for an exemption to be made, for welfare reasons, for working dogs on the back of the findings of Scottish Government-commissioned research by Glasgow University Veterinary School.
See research here:
Since then, Scottish Government has issued a consultation, now closed, which asked people about the introduction of a tightly worded exemption to existing legislation to be made for, specifically,  working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers.
The Glasgow Uni research showed that 57 per cent of Spaniels and 39 per cent of HPRs, without shortened tail tips, received one or more tail injury in one surveyed season.
You can see the BBC Landward piece, here, on iplayer:…/episode/…/landward-20162017-episode-3

The Abstract to the Glasgow University research: "Docking the tails of HPRs and spaniels by one third would significantly decrease the risk of tail injury sustained while working in these breeds.'

Thursday 5 May 2016


Lapwing, like Curlew, have suffered major declines in Scotland.
Gamekeepers believe a novel conservation collaboration could yet prevent the call of the Curlew from being silenced in Scotland, if bold ideas are translated into concerted action.
Wading birds have declined alarmingly in this country and Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) warned of the consequences of inaction during its Year of the Wader programme, 2014.
A ten year project by GWCT at Otterburn showed birds such as Curlew, Lapwing and Plover produce up to three times more chicks on land where gamekeepers legally manage abundant predators.
However, although managed moors are bucking the downward trend, wader number are continuing to crash in Scotland overall and gamekeepers fear losing the call of the Curlew forever.
Scottish Government tasked countryside bodies to work together to address predation affects impacting the survival of waders and other wild birds such as the rare black grouse.
The novel collaboration of environmental, farming, forestry and gamekeeping groups- run by the multi-body Moorland Forum- is combining science with local knowledge; a new conservation approach.
Following a workshop seminar of stakeholders this week at the SNH office at Battleby, the project is now preparing to move towards the best options to save Scotland’s wading birds.
And gamekeepers, who have been calling for decisive action for over a decade now, are hopeful the ‘Understanding Predation’ project will finally see a reprieve for the embattled birds.
“There is an acceptance now of a need to move quickly before we lose some of these species. There is also an understanding that what is currently being done is not working,” said the SGA’s Ronnie Kippen, who sits on the project steering group.
“Only last year the Curlew was placed on the conservation red-list and without action now, the outlook is not great. The speed of their decline is a major concern.
“What has been new about this project is that it has brought together people often with different views, with a common goal. Importantly, it has given practitioners who manage the land every day an equal right to have their opinions taken seriously, alongside published science.
“Simon Thorp of Moorland Forum, Juliette Young (Centre for Hydrology and Ecology) and Chris Wernham of BTO and the rest of the team deserve thanks in managing this.
“Messing around now with lengthy projects to find results stakeholders already know is not going to save one wader. It will use scarce public resources and, basically, we don’t have time. There needs to be bold decisions now and, if we are going to save our waders, farmers, gamekeepers and shoot operators are all going to have a part to play, as well as scientists.”
The Birds of Conservation Concern report, published in December 2015, placed Europe’s largest wading bird, the Curlew, on the red list as a species of ‘highest conservation concern’.
Red listings are attributed when a bird’s number or range has halved in the UK or if they are considered to be under threat of global extinction.
In 2013, the State of Nature report sounded alarm bells for other waders, with Lapwing and Golden Plover decreasing by 53 and 50 per cent respectively between two study periods, 1968-72 and 2008-2011.
The overwhelming majority of attendees at the Understanding Predation seminar this week acknowledged the current licensing system in Scotland does not offer adequate protection to wading and wild birds during the critical breeding window.
The project steering group will now assess various adaptive management options in a bid to stem the declines before more birds are lost.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association:
Watch the SGA Year of the Rural Worker film, here:

Learn more about the Understanding Predation project, here:

Tuesday 3 May 2016


On Monday (May 2nd), the SGA Fishing Group submitted its final response to the Scottish Government consultation on the Wild Fisheries (Scotland) Bill draft after a group meeting in Perth improved on the original draft response.
The group would like to thank all those who participated at the meeting and by email, helping us to best represent the interests of river workers during the reform process.
The final response can be found, here: