Saturday, 27 October 2018

SGA CHAIRMAN RESPONDS AGAIN TO GOAT HUNTING FURORE


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg has written to the Telegraph in the wake of #Goatgate this week. The full text appears below.

The SGA has learned some individuals have been critical of representative organisations for a lack of response to this emerging story and wants to make some points known regarding its own involvement.

The SGA would like to make it clear to all members that, as the story was breaking on Day 1, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg provided direct comments to The Scotsman newspaper, the iPaper, The Sun, The Telegraph, Deadline News Agency, Pressteam Agency, The Press and Journal and The Daily Mail as well as providing context and information for many individual journalists covering the story.

Due to dealing with many other important organisational issues such as time-dependent Government consultations, the SGA declined some broadcast interviews on Day 2, allowing others to take up the slack, but Chairman Alex Hogg provided this further article and a further comment article for The Sun newspaper, on Day 3.

Text from Telegraph article, here: By SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.

"Some people don’t like to see animals killed. As a gamekeeper of over 40 years, it is something I have become accustomed to, as part of a job that requires the legal control of abundant predators, such as foxes and crows, in order to give ground-nesting birds a chance in life. That includes the curlew and the plover, not just the game birds. And while I have respect for other peoples’ viewpoint as regards killing, I personally believe and understand why it is sometimes necessary- and advantageous.

I have not controlled goats, personally. I have had to kill wild or injured sheep before, but not for sporting reasons. Hundreds of thousands of animals are killed in Scotland each year to protect various interests, whether it is trees, crops or private property. Over 300 buzzards a year are killed at Scottish airports for air safety, yet people don’t stop having holidays to Tenerife, even if they abhor the idea of protected birds of prey being killed.

The public aren’t keen on hungry seagulls eating their sandwiches at lunch time and councils will order in the pest control, on the QT, to keep residents safe. We kill rats in industrial quantities, for hygiene and to control the spread of disease. They are animals, too, even if less photogenic than some.

Back to goats, the RSPB, with over a million members, and a strap-line of “giving nature a home” controls feral goats at Inversnaid, on Loch Lomond, to protect woodland.

This has been done by culling (and means such as using contraceptive darts) and is rightly given the name of conservation to protect important habitats. Yet, show the gun and outrage ensues. Why? What makes one type of killing different from another?

In my personal view, we appear to have forgotten that management of the land and management of species often go hand in hand and someone has to pay for that management, either by realising a sporting asset or through tax payer’s money. On Thursday it was announced that the RSPB and SNH will receive £6 million to eradicate Orkney’s stoats, again for conservation reasons. Gamekeepers manage stoats daily, at no cost to the public.

Last year, in Scotland, 112, 500 deer were killed and Michael Russell, - the Brexit Minister who responded angrily to the picture of Larysa Switlyk posing with a dead goat on Islay - has personally campaigned for more culling to promote Scottish Government’s forestry expansion target and to bring more protected sites into favourable condition.
Yet, in the west, feral goats can do as much damage to the natural heritage as deer can. There seems to be a selective view of the “natural heritage” and what ought to be killed without the knowledge of the processes which underpin it.
Similarly, under government approval, increasing numbers of deer are shot in public forests at night and, only a few years ago, John Muir Trust, named after the Scottish conservationist, left 86 stags to rot away on a Knoydart hillside. I can't recall the same level of abuse being directed towards them as the American TV star.

Michael Russell was at pains to make a distinction between “trophy hunting” and land management. He has a point. Ultimately, though, a goat is shot or it’s not. Furthermore, his own government’s policy targets will necessitate many more goats being shot in the west in the future, whether by an American huntress, a local farmer, or whoever else.

By transporting a bit of her own “hunting” culture to a Scotland unaccustomed to it, the huntress misread the mood, no doubt. As to the shooting of the blackface, I cannot comment without knowing full facts.
However, with social media as it is (the threats and abuse were possibly more illegal than the hunting), politicians have to be in possession of all the facts before wading in. The Greens chose to make political capital for an anti-bloodsports policy that would put nearly 9,000 people, like me, on the dole. That is their prerogative.
But the public have to realise that species management is carried out the world over. Scotland is not a special case. 
If people want to pay to help that process along, do we say “no”? Shooting in Scotland is worth pounds £200 million a year, and supports 8,800 jobs.
Maybe we just need to tone down the pictures next time." 


Friday, 26 October 2018

NEW GRADINGS FOR SALMON RIVERS ANNOUNCED


Marine Scotland has announced the gradings for Scottish salmon rivers following changes to its approach in modelling the conservation status of rivers.
These gradings first came into force in April 2016 in order to regulate exploitation and determine which measures were necessary to protect the declining conservation status of wild salmon.
However, many complaints were received as anglers and custodians felt the methodology did not adequately capture the true picture of stocks in certain waters and this has now been refined further.
Scotland's 173 rivers have now been classified and their gradings can be searched online at https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00542420.pdf
Rivers with a Category 3 rating will have to apply mandatory catch and release.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

SGA WELCOMES RECORD LOW RAPTOR CRIMES IN SCOTLAND


The SGA has issued the following response to the official figures from Scottish Government which showed a record low, since records began in 2004, of recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland.
In 2017, there was only one recorded case of raptor poisoning in Scotland.
The SGA has also called for a review of how satellite tags are monitored in Scotland.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “In 2010, in Scotland, there were 22 cases of raptor poisoning which was unacceptable.
"Seven years on, we are looking at 1 case, with shooting and trapping reduced substantially as well. Few, if any, types of crime in this country have declined at such a rate. This is welcomed by the SGA.
 “The SGA has expelled 6 members in 6 years for wildlife crime convictions.
"Going forward, we believe satellite tagged birds should be monitored independently, in the same way SASA currently handles poisoning cases for Government, so that everyone involved in tackling this issue can understand more about any loss of transmission from tags and can develop future strategy, from a position of trust.”


While the SGA acknowledges that persecution still exists and will continue in its efforts to reduce this  further in Scotland, the organisation believes it is important to remember how far things have come in Scotland in the last 10 years.



Obtained through FOI from Police Scotland, this graph, up until 2014-2015 (anticipated updates will show a similar but reducing pattern) shows wildlife crime set against other types of recorded crime in Scotland.