Tuesday 31 July 2018


David Howarth with the 2017 Ronnie Rose Award
The SGA is delighted to announce that the 2018 Ronnie Rose Award for conservation and education will be presented on Friday (3rd August) at Moy Highland Fieldsports Fair.
Team SGA is gearing up for the second show event of 2018 and will welcome Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP to present the awards.
As well as the Ronnie Rose award presentation, we will also be handing over the next set of Long Service medals to individuals who have given 40 years of unbroken service to the gamekeeping, stalking, gillie-ing or wildlife management professions.
The first recipients received their medals and framed certificates at GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone, a ceremony which swelled the crowd at the SGA stand.
We look forward to seeing everyone for the presentations on Friday, which will get underway at 11am.
See you there.

Friday 27 July 2018

Newcastle Disease - Threat Level Raised By Government

Diseases - Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a para-myxo virus. Birds affected by this disease are fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, pheasants, guinea fowl and other wild and captive birds, including ratites such ostriches, emus and rhea.
The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. The disease is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. Virus-bearing material can also be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one.
Possible routes of transmission therefore include contact between poultry and also through movements of contaminated vehicles, equipment, manure, feed and water.
The virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials.
Effective vaccines are available and some poultry are vaccinated routinely.

Current Situation

Following a number of outbreaks of a virulent strain of Newcastle Disease in small poultry flocks, commercial layers and other captive birds in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the risk of a disease outbreak in GB has been raised from low to Medium (meaning ‘outbreak likely to occur’).
Although the risk has increased, government has advised that shows and gatherings can still take place subject to increased vigilance and rigid compliance with a biosecurity plan, as required by the current General Licence.  As an added precaution we are advising organisers of gatherings to require all exhibitors and participants to complete and sign a declaration, confirming that birds at the event have not been outside of the UK within the last 21 days and that none of the birds are showing any signs of, or have been in contact with birds showing any clinical signs of Newcastle Disease.
In Great Britain, isolated cases of this disease were first reported in the 1930s.  From 1947 outbreaks occurred here over the next 30 years, and there were further isolated cases in 1984 and 1996-7.  The most recent case was during October/November 2006 in East Lothian.

Biosecurity Guidance

The best defence - as with all exotic animal diseases - is a high level of awareness and good biosecurity. Poultry keepers and businesses in Scotland are reminded of the importance of maintaining biosecurity in their flocks and being vigilant to any signs of disease in their birds.
We have published a new biosecurity leaflet for all bird keepers and detailed guidance advising poultry keepers how to minimise the risk of infection on their premises.
If you suspect Newcastle Disease is present in your flock, you must tell your nearest Animal and Plant and Health Agency (APHA) office immediately. Failure to do so can be deemed an offence.
Further information on biosecurity and good practice is available via the links below:

Bird Gatherings

Bird gatherings are permitted (outside any specific control zones which may be in force) but must comply with all of the conditions in the bird fairs, markets, shows and other gatherings general licence.
The general licence allows the collecting together of poultry and other captive birds from more than one source at one location, while minimising the risk of disease spreading between flocks. The licence allows bird gatherings to proceed subject to conditions and prior notification to the Inverness Animal and Plant Health Agency Office.
If holding or attending a bird gathering, you must read and adhere to the conditions within the general licence. You may also wish to read our guidance for the conduct of bird fairs, markets, shows and other gatherings. Non-compliance with the general licence may constitute an offence and a person may be liable to a term not exceeding six months in prison, and/or a £5,000 fine on conviction.
Should the risk change, the veterinary risk assessment will be revised, subsequently the general licence may be amended or revoked.
Biosecurity measures should also be considered at events that do not require general licensing, such as sales or showing of birds from single flocks on premises at which other bird events may take place. The following measures should be taken:
  • All litter and manure within the cages, crates or baskets must be contained until disposal; any spillages outside the cage to be cleansed and disinfected immediately
  • All litter and manure must be disposed of in a manner which does not present a risk of spread of the disease (e.g. in sealed bags for normal refuse collection, so that other birds do not have direct access to it)
  • All exhibitors/entrants must be instructed to cleanse and disinfect the show cages, crates or baskets before the event and advise them that the show cages, crates or baskets should be cleansed and disinfected on return to the home premises and before they are used to hold any other bird.

Great Britain Poultry Register

There is a legal requirement for all commercial poultry keepers with 50 or more birds to register their premises. The voluntary registration of premises with fewer than 50 birds is encouraged.
You can find out more information about registration here: https://www.gov.uk/poultry-registration

Credit to Brittish Goverment Website

Thursday 26 July 2018


Image: Legal trap intentionally vandalised by a member of the public in Scotland.
The SGA is pleased to announce to members that, following a consultation, additional time is to be given for replacement of stoat traps. 
Under the new Spring Trap Approval Order, announced by DEFRA and Scottish Govt, those who legally trap abundant stoats to protect ground-nesting birds will be given until January 2020 to replace the current Fenn-style traps with new AIHTS compliant traps.
This sensible extension allows time for a new trap models to be developed and avoids the very real possibility of manufacturers being swamped with orders at the one time and people being devoid of compliant traps until orders can be fulfilled.

Thursday 12 July 2018


*The SGA is delighted to hear news of wader success in Strathbraan in 2018. The SGA is providing technical support to the SGA members within the control area.

Land managers in Strathbraan are predicting an excellent year for endangered waders following the granting of measures to protect vulnerable chicks from predation.
Farmers and gamekeepers were granted a license from Scottish Natural Heritage to control juvenile flocks of predatory ravens in a bid to protect birds such as Curlew; now classed the UK’s most urgent conservation priority.
Breeding Curlew populations have crashed by half in the UK in 25 years and, across Europe, the estimated breeding success per pair is only 0.34 chicks per nest- not enough to prevent further declines.*
The management trial, which allowed up to 69 ravens to be taken this year, was controversial in some quarters, despite frequent and widely accepted observations of chick predation by marauding raven flocks.
Anecdotal reports on the ground suggest the additional protection afforded to the wader chicks has already paid dividends this year.
Strathbraan has seen the rare and welcome sight of nests fledging four Curlew chicks this year, leading to optimism that productivity counts will demonstrate much needed relief for the embattled birds.
Encouragingly, raven predation pressure seems to have been low this year, with fewer than half permitted under the license, having been taken.
“There is a definite upsurge this year in the waders,” said local gamekeeper Ronnie Kippen, whose ground falls within the licensed area. “We have barely seen a pair of Curlew without chicks.
“Oystercatchers are roughly the same as we observe but Curlew and Lapwing have made a big shift. The hens were in good breeding condition but the chicks have been much better protected.
“The ravens have got clever, which we anticipated, plus they have not been able to build up enough in numbers to cause the damage this time.
“That was the main problem last year; ravens coming in and hammering the chicks on the floor of the glen.
“I think we would be very surprised, next year, if we did not see high numbers return from the wintering ground, given the sheer amount of chicks we have put away successfully this year.”
While wading bird numbers have plummeted in the UK, ravens have benefitted from full legal protection. Their numbers have doubled since 1994 while Curlew have declined 46 percent in 25 years.
Low breeding success is cited as the principal reason for Curlew population decline.
A recent Scottish Government funded multi-party report, Understanding Predation, concluded that ravens were predators of ground nesting birds and that bold and urgent conservation measures were required to save red-listed waders.
*Roodbergen M, et al. Journal of Ornithology 2012; 153: 53–74.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Letter Of Thanks From Gamekeepers Welfare Trust

Dear All

Thank you very much to everyone who could attend yesterday Sunday 1st July on the GWCT stand and to GWCT for kindly hosting our gathering on a very hot afternoon – it is not easy getting away from stands and we do appreciate your time and support.

I hope you will agree we are off to a great start in achieving the aims and objectives we set out at our meeting at The Borders College.

Please could you contact your relevant departments to organise incorporating the Stag training course on your websites and contact me as to requirements i.e. logos, images etc.  This is very important in ensuring that everyone knows that you all support our initiative and delegates can easily access information to book their places.

Please feel free to circulate our group photo on any of your social media platforms which I hope to receive shortly and will forward.

Thank you very much indeed.

Helen M J Benson
Gamekeepers Welfare Trust
Keepers Cottage West Tanfield Ripon North Yorkshire HG4 5LE
Office:  01677 470180
Jamies Helpline: 0300 1233088