Tuesday 14 March 2017


Lea MacNally works at Glenquoich
where Landseer  painted (see image below story)
Scotland’s gamekeepers and stalkers have urged the public to ensure the ‘Monarch of the Glen’ stays in Scotland, with the iconic red deer still highly relevant to many highland communities.
National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) has until Friday to meet the £4m price tag, enabling Sir Edward Landseer’s celebrated 1851 depiction of a Stag to remain in public view.
When NGS launched its ‘Help Save The Stag’ campaign last month, £750 000 was still required to honour the agreement made between the gallery and drinks giant Diageo, its present owner.
That deal would see Landseer’s most famous painting acquired for less than half its £10m market value and avoid it being sold on the open market and potentially leaving Scotland.
With days to go the deadline, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association hopes public generosity will tip the funding bid over the finishing line, keeping the work in Edinburgh.
Despite it being painted in the 19th Century, stalkers within the organisation believe the red deer is still highly relevant today, as a symbol of wild Scotland and an economic lifeline for some remote communities.
“I genuinely hope people can help meet the target and the Monarch stays,” said Lea MacNally, a stalker in Glenquoich near Lochaber, where Landseer sketched another of his famous works of a tracker dog called ‘Rifler’ laying atop a fallen deer (image below).
“The ‘Monarch’ provokes differing views but what is undeniable is that the sight of a Stag in its wild home still stirs something within people today. I regularly see wildlife photographers, with expensive gear, clambering to capture what Landseer was capturing back then, with oil paints.
“In remote communities like this one, deer bring sportsmen and women, and wildlife tourists, to the glen, which keeps the businesses afloat at difficult times of the year, and people in employment. There are always busloads of tourists stopping at a place known locally as ‘Landseer’s Rocks’. Venison is also a premium organic food product, internationally.
“It would be a real shame to lose the painting. It is a tribute to an iconic animal which continues to give a lot to the country and especially to the highlands.”
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s views have struck a chord with northern businesses benefiting from the allure of an animal regularly voted the Scottish public’s favourite.
Camey Simpson runs Simpson Game from the Badenoch village of Newtonmore and his highly trained team process red deer venison sourced from estates across the north.
“It would be fitting if the painting stayed in Scotland. Some people might associate the subject matter with gentry but, for us, it is about employment and investment in a lot of trained local people who would otherwise leave the village to find work elsewhere and probably not return.
“The red Stag, as painted by Landseer, is part of our heritage. It is recognised as belonging to Scotland, not Wales, Ireland or anywhere else. We need to value it, just as we need to value the industry it supports, rather than it becoming another Scottish hard luck story.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund has supported the campaign to purchase the painting with a £2.75m donation, topped up by Art Fund cash of £350 000 plus donations.
It has been in private and corporate collections since Landseer completed it in 1851.
“There are two types of native deer in Scotland – red deer and roe deer. The majestic red deer is our largest terrestrial mammal, and undoubtedly one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles of Scotland; their sights and sounds are enjoyed by locals, tourists, and Autumn-watch viewers alike.”
Source: Scottish Natural Heritage (see About Red Deer, above).
National Galleries Scotland Donations page: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/supportus/donate-now

Another of Landseer's celebrated paintings was sketched at Glenquoich.


Attendees at one of the recent SGA Snare training courses in Perth.

Earlier today (March 14th 2017), Scottish Government published the findings of its review of snaring, carried out by an independent review group, led by Scottish Natural Heritage.

You can view the report press release and the content of its findings, here:  http://news.gov.scot/news/snaring-review

Responding to the report, Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "We are pleased to hear the independent Review Group's findings that the number of snaring incidents in Scotland have fallen to statistically very low levels. As an approved body, the SGA has trained a significant proportion of those legally permitted to operate snares in Scotland, in accordance with best practice and the tougher regulations brought in under the WANE Bill. We will now work with Scottish Government and SNH to develop an updated Code of Practice."

Using Snares in Scotland: 

Snares are a legal management tool deployed for the control of abundant foxes which predate ground nesting birds, some of which have suffered declines of almost 50 per cent in recent years and are now regarded a national conservation priority. https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/releases/410756-curlew-should-be-uks-top-conservation-concern-says-rspb-scotland

Snares, when set in accordance with the law, can be deployed in areas and at other times of the year where alternative methods are not effective. High vegetation in summer months and areas of extremely rough terrain are examples of situations where snares are the most effective method for fox control. Similarly, when set legally, the snare acts as a restraining device until the target animal can be despatched or any non target species can be released unharmed. Scientists also deploy snares to safely capture animals they intend to fit with radio tags.

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) Order 2015 looked at the welfare issues surrounding the setting of snares. This resulted in all those wishing to operate snares legally in Scotland being trained to do so, with the welfare of the animal being paramount.

One of the organisations approved by Scottish Government to deliver training was The Scottish Gamekeepers Association. To date, the SGA reports that it has trained 600 of its own members and 200 non-members out of the 1500+ individuals in total who have been accredited to operate snares legally in Scotland. 

Proportionate to the numbers of individuals trained to use snares, there have been very few recorded prosecutions connected to the misuse of snares by individuals who have been trained and whose fox or rabbit snares carry the necessary personal identification tag which must be obtained from Police Scotland.

Practitioners Guides set out the legal and welfare requirements for setting snares and can be found here: http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/docs/Snaring%20in%20Scotland%204th%20Edition%202012.pdf