Saturday, 23 December 2017

SGA MEMBERS' UPDATE


The SGA membership has expressed concerns to us regarding a recent vote taken by the SNP National Council to curb fox hunting in Scotland and to licence grouse moors.

The relevant motions leading to these decisions appeared to have been motivated by the Scottish figurehead for the organisation, The League Against Cruel Sports; an organisation with an openly stated agenda on both issues, and a history of making donations to political parties.

Decisions on these subjects will have far reaching consequences. During evidence at Holyrood, we made clear our view that a licensing system, centred on a civil burden of proof, would lay open lawful working people to the types of individuals and groups who would view such a decision as a green light to causing further problems for those working within our industry.

It was no surprise to us, therefore, that the news of this National Council vote was being hailed very soon afterwards by such groups, on social media, as a step to ‘inevitable’ licensing and a ‘staging post’ to their end game of banning driven grouse shooting altogether. This, in our view, has always been the tactic, regardless of the veneer.

We have been contacted by many members about this and have written to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to clarify what consequences, if any, this will have for the independent review of grouse moors. We will let members know in due course.

Whether people like shooting or not, our industry produces employment on a vast scale in rural Scotland. These managed moors are the last refuge of some of our iconic flora and fauna and a significant food source for Scotland’s raptor population- and increasingly the human population.
Hard working gamekeepers, with their skills and knowledge, help preserve our unique open landscapes, admired the world over; landscapes which set us apart from many other countries. There are more eagles now in Scotland than there have ever been in recent memory and more raptors regularly feeding on grouse moor areas than anyone will see in many un-managed places with the exception of feeding stations and some islands. The notion put about that these spaces are devoid of raptors is politically-motivated. 

As an organisation, we have made tough and often unpopular decisions in order to contribute to an almost year on year decline in raptor persecution, expelling 6 members in 5 years. We will continue to promote those policies, which focus on legal measures to tackle species conflicts. We continue to argue for people having access to the legal and adaptive tools they have been told by Scottish government agencies exist, but are yet to be delivered. We were highly encouraged, once again, to see a further 8 percent fall in wildlife crime in Scotland although, as ever, there is still much to do.

If licensing is to be pushed through and the vital role of the gamekeeper is to be protected from those intent on seeing this as a green light towards a ban, Scottish Government will have to introduce new measures which would embed impartiality into wildlife crime policing, ensuring any system had a sound evidential basis. They will have to tighten up on people being able to walk over estates wilfully causing trouble in a way which could get gamekeepers’ licenses removed, if this was allowed to pass. 

For the vast majority of our members who are wholly law abiding, we will, and are ready to contest ill-judged elements of this proposal whilst offering Scottish Government solutions to improve the way Scotland’s countryside operates. These are the pledges we can give to you, the members.

In January, everyone has the opportunity to respond to the consultation on fox hunting, which closes on 31st January. You will find details on our website news page. Political noises surrounding this issue seem to suggest proposals may be put forward for a total ban or a reduction to 2 hounds. For those who depend on foot packs to manage foxes in forestry, the latter is as unpalatable as the former. Don’t miss the opportunity to respond. It is now vital!

As the seasons are pushing busily to a close, I and everyone at the SGA would like to wish all members the joys of the season and good health and friendship in 2018.
Our management remains under perpetual scrutiny but despite this attention, by following best practice and operating  diligently and lawfully, we can continue to share the benefits of all we do.

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

GUIDANCE ON BIRD FLU AND GAMEBIRDS.


All members should make themselves aware of the recently published guidance on Bird flu and Gamebirds, endorsed by Defra, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments.

This is standing advice regarding measures which can be taken to minimise the risk of disease.


Advice on this subject was first agreed nationally last winter during a severe outbreak of notifiable bird flu in the UK. The new advice differs in that it is general in nature and no longer date sensitive. Specific advice relating to any actual outbreaks will be published separately so that this standing advice can remain clear and widely available.

A spokesman for the eight stakeholder bodies said, "The UK is currently free of bird flu and whilst we hope that will remain the case, it is important to keep awareness and biosecurity high to reduce risks and to be ready should the disease reappear. Gamebirds can catch bird flu and the activities of gamebird rearers may also be affected by official controls introduced to eradicate the disease elsewhere. The advice explains the signs of the disease and what to do if it is detected. It also sets out the typical control measures, explaining how they might affect each aspect of gamebird management. It urges all gamebird keepers to make contingency plans now, lest their birds be infected with bird flu or their activities caught up in movement restrictions and other control measures."

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:"We are pleased to endorse this important revised advice. Bird flu remains a serious concern and the control measures required can be fast-moving and comprehensive. 

It will help the gamebird industry to have approved, standing advice widely available so that keepers can plan ahead to minimise their risk of the disease."




Wednesday, 20 December 2017

NOTE TO MEMBERS: THE 2017 CODE OF GOOD SHOOTING PRACTICE

Have you read the Updated Code of Good Shooting Practice, 2017, yet? 
No? 
It is time to do so.

The SGA is delighted to have been be part of this revised Code, which sets out the benchmarks for maintaining the highest standards.

Game management and conservation help shape and enhance our landscape. Wildlife thrives where land is managed for shooting. Over a million people are involved in shooting; many more enjoy the end product as consumers of pheasants, partridges and other game. Moreover, shooting makes a substantial contribution to the rural economy – often at times and in places where other income is scarce. Shooting is worth £2 billion to the UK annually and £200m to Scotland each year.

But the good name of shooting depends on everyone involved following this Code. Whatever your role within shooting, you should always be ‘Code-aware’ and raise awareness of this Code in others.

You can download and save your own copy, for reference, by clicking here: http://codeofgoodshootingpractice.org.uk

Please also make yourself aware of the revised Code to Game Handling.

Ensuring the best game ends up on the table, in a way which meets all food safety requirements, is critical. The appetite for game meat is growing. By maintaining the highest standards, we can ensure more and more people are enjoying high quality, healthy free-range game.

This guide can also be downloaded from http://codeofgoodshootingpractice.org.uk









Monday, 11 December 2017

GAMEKEEPERS RESPOND TO 8 PERCENT DROP IN WILDLIFE CRIME


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association is once again pleased at continuing progress in terms of a further reduction in wildlife crime in Scotland, at a time when public scrutiny and awareness has never been higher.
As a body we have a strict code regarding wildlife crime which is fully understood by our membership. 
The SGA advocates and seeks only legal and adaptive solutions to resolving species conflicts.

We note Scottish Government’s intention to hold a review of grouse shooting in Scotland and will participate fully in what we hope will deliver sound evidence over implication or speculation.

Friday, 1 December 2017

INSURANCE INQUIRIES OVER FESTIVE SEASON

You can help these (very) hard working SGA stalwarts- and your guests- by  ensuring you call to arrange insurance before the office closes for Christmas and New Year.
The SGA office would like to alert members that, if you are looking into insurance for guests to participate in shoots over the festive period, please contact the office before December 22nd.
The office will be closed from mid-day on 22nd December until 9am on 4th January 2018.
No one would want anyone to miss out over the festive season so make sure you contact us in good time so we can process all inquiries.

Thanks. #TeamSGA.

WINNER OF 2017 SGA RAFFLE WITH POLARIS ANNOUNCED


One lucky individual is set for a very merry Xmas after being drawn in the SGA office today as the winner of the 2017 SGA raffle with Polaris.
The SGA has been inundated with entries for this year's draw, with a prize of an all-wheel drive, hard working Polaris Sportsman 570 up for grabs.
The SGA is delighted to announce that the winner is Ewan Archer from Carrbridge, who has been notified of the outcome.
We would like to congratulate Ewan on his success and to thank Polaris for providing such an excellent prize, as well as the many hundreds who bought tickets. Your support is vital and welcome to the SGA. Thank you.