Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Office Communication Now Back Up and Running

Dear members, we are happy to say that the SGA office networks have resumed . Engineers have identified the fault, which has now been fixed. Thanks to everyone for their patience. All inquiries will be worked through by the office team as we get back online.


For the attention of members. Unfortunately, an unforeseen issue has hit the SGA office systems today (May 21st) with internet and phone both affected.
Until the issue is sorted, staff are going to work off-site. Communications should by email only until we resolve the unexpected issue. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Staff will endeavour to answer all emails sent to us and will try to keep any delays to a minimum.
Thank you all for your patience regarding this matter.

Friday, 10 May 2019


Dear members, with our jobs, way of life and values under threat more than ever, it has never been more important to respond to the new joint SGA/NGO survey.
This survey is your opportunity to let the wider world know about all the conservation and other important work you do and will enable the SGA and NGO to take the value of that work to decision makers and the wider public.
If everyone takes 5 minutes to respond, together we will have a much stronger story to tell.
You can take the survey, online, NOW, by clicking https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CST6TZV
You can contact the SGA office for a physical form by emailing info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk or by calling 01738 587 515.

Let's make sure our voices are heard above the noise. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019


Burnt out trees in Moray following the recent wildfire
The SGA recently blogged about the difference between planned muirburn and wildfire. 
Since then, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has announced it is to learn from other countries where fire is used effectively to fight wildfires- and from gamekeepers- who have been deploying controlled muirburn for centuries, providing a food source for red and black grouse, deer, sheep and other moorland inhabitants, as well as nesting cover.
Controlled muirburning, in rotational strips or patches of different aged heather, also creates fire breaks over the moor, reducing fuel load, so the moor is less susceptible to wildfire, which would kill the heather habitat of the birds as well as losing vital shooting income for years.
Recapping on the original blog, we have now uploaded a short video clip to the SGA YouTube channel showing the devastation of vast areas in the recent wildfire at Moray. This is only a small section of the burn-out, with frazzled and blackened trees and miles of black ground which will take decades to recover. The wildfire covered 23 square miles in total and has taken out woodland schemes, important moorland habitats and forestry.
This fire started in woodland in an area where muirburning of the heather around the woodland has been restricted for 10 years and where no heather management has been allowed at all for 3 years. Despite being put out some days before, the fire re-started and got away, causing extensive damage to the holdings nearby.
You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/G4BjELWA7cs
There will also be an article in the next edition of our member magazine, Scottish Gamekeeper.

***Please also subscribe to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association YouTube channel to keep up with latest news.

Scenes of devastation at a wind farm site in Moray following the wildfire.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019


There has been a lot of recent debate around legal predator control traps. Clearly, there is a need for wider education around this subject. Such issues are rarely black and white. Firstly, the predator traps currently available in the open marketplace and used by gamekeepers, farmers and conservationists are legal, tested and approved in design, operated by trained operators and, whether some like them or not, are approved by governmental agencies such as SNH because they are acknowledged to have a legitimate conservation purpose. It is illegal to vandalise approved traps and snares set by approved operators in the countryside. 
Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming more and more prevalent, making it very difficult for people to work.
In this post are photographs sent to the SGA by residents in Orkney. The traps in the photos are legally set. They are being operated by RSPB Scotland as part of the plan to kill all stoats on Orkney in a bid to save native wildlife. SGA members, too, use approved legal stoat traps to control their numbers. Stoats, abundant in number, are proven to have a negative impact on an array of ground nesting species; some of which are gradually- and in some cases quickly- disappearing from our countryside.
This project will see RSPB Scotland receive £7.265 million of public money. SNH, Scottish Government’s scientific advisers, have paid £526 000 towards the project which involves training people to use these legal traps to eradicate stoats. EU Life have paid £2 636 597. Heritage Lottery Fund, an arms length body but accountable to Parliament via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, have funded stoat eradication to the tune of £3.48 million.
People may comment on how openly these traps have been set, in public areas, and whether they will be effective.
However, they are there for a purpose, ultimately, to kill predators in order to save vulnerable species. They are the same traps available for use to gamekeepers and farmers and have the same biodiversity spin-offs for the types of species which form part of the diet of the stoat. Furthermore, their use is not only backed by government advisory agencies and national funding bodies; these bodies are happy to spend significant sums of tax payers’ money to see them operated. Predator control is a key component in conservation. Hopefully those intending to damage the tools to carry it out legally and humanely will think beyond narrow agendas and leave them to do their intended job. 
That said, if you see a trap which is set illegally, contact the Police*
* The notice on the top of the Orkney trap recommends that, if you want to report an injured animal in the trap, you should contact RSPB or SNH, not the Police.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg has today welcomed a new report from scientists from GWCT and RSPB who were working at Langholm Moor during the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (2008 to 2017).

The paper, published on April 26th 2019, highlights the benefits of legal predator control by trained gamekeepers to the survival of threatened wading birds including the Curlew, regarded as the UK's most pressing conservation priority.

The control of abundant predators such as foxes, crows, stoats and weasels, using approved traps and snares, benefits a broad range of wildlife, particularly ground-nesting species.

The report can be found, here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10336-019-01667-6?fbclid=IwAR2ZoP4pZ7Yze18lSnJz42B1bUtMjanfUXBJAAYw1vMP9hK3Gz24-5YR1TE

Watch Alex speaking about the paper, here, from outside the Scottish Parliament today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vXxOxLOaYk