Thursday, 27 June 2019

STATEMENT: HEN HARRIER

A statement from the SGA was released today in response to an RSPB story regarding a Hen Harrier in a trap in Perthshire.

A Spokesman from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “As an organisation, where there is proven criminality, we share the abhorrence felt when a bird of prey is illegally killed. If such a case involves an SGA member, we take firm and appropriate action by revoking membership, as we have done on 7 occasions in the past 7 years. In this case, we understand that the estates co-operated fully with Police, and Police did not treat anyone as a suspect.
“The estates have made it clear they were not responsible for the setting of the trap. 
“A number of things may have happened to the bird in the lengthy intervening period between the tag signalling in November then again in May.
“We are aware that grouse moors are currently the subject of governmental review, with some organisations actively seeking legislation of the sector. However, we consider it irresponsible for assertions of guilt to be levelled with no supporting evidence during a live investigation and at a time when Police do not consider staff at the estates to be suspects. 
“All evidence from the tag should be made available for independent scrutiny and assessment; something which does not happen currently. It appears this tag was going on and off over long periods which begs questions as to what can actually be known. Perhaps with greater transparency surrounding the tag data, those responsible can be caught and brought to justice.”


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

MEETING OF SGA FISHING GROUP


In the wake of a decision being made to expand the existing SGA Fishing Group, a meeting has been organised to discuss group operations and buy-in and to establish key priorities for 2019 and beyond.
Those who made a pledge to join the group and now want to know more about how it will work, how it will be run and resourced will be able to ask all questions on the night.
We appreciate not everyone will be able to make the meeting but there is no time to waste in moving forward. We hope that those not able to make it will be able to able to follow any bulletins from the meeting, as they are published on the website, or will be able to call in or email the office with any questions.
The meeting will be held at 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the office of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Inveralmond Business Centre, 6 Auld Bond Road, South Inveralmond, Perth, PH1 3FX on Thursday July 11th 2019.
It is essential that you notify the office that you intend to come along as we may have to book more space than the current office capacity.
To do so, call the office on 01738 587 515 or mail info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk
We look forward to seeing existing and potential new members on the night.

To recap on recent developments leading to the meeting, see: https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2019/06/worried-about-salmon-and-jobs-read-now.html


The agenda for the meeting will be:

  • Group expansion: Reasons, objectives, resourcing and Q and A.
  • Assessing current and future buy-in to the group.
  • Establishing work priorities for 2019 and beyond.



Tuesday, 25 June 2019

PLEASE RESPOND TO CONSULTATION ON FOX CONTROL AND MOUNTAIN HARES.

The fox will often kill far more than is needed to feed itself or young.

On Monday June 24th 2019, Alison Johnstone MSP (Green Party) launched a public consultation on her proposal to ban the use of dogs in fox control and to outlaw all management of mountain and brown hare populations, unless under license.
The SGA will be strongly opposing all elements of this proposal.
Ending the use of scenting dogs to flush foxes from thick forestry blocks in Scotland, where no other  practical alternatives exist, will spell disaster for farm livestock and ground nesting wildlife, for which these proposals show no regard.
Much science has already been published on 'edge effects' around forestry which makes predation risk far higher in this environment for ground nesting birds, with the red fox a prolific predator.
The UK has the second highest fox population in Europe after Italy. There is no threat to the Scottish fox population and, while animal welfare must be a priority for all, the need for population control is beyond question. These proposals must be contested by those who believe in protecting farm livestock and species now classified as globally vulnerable. Removing a key tool for management within the very type of habitat where the fox thrives, defies all logic. Remember, Green MSPs, too, want to see an end to legal snaring. No consideration has been given to livestock which often have to be humanely dispatched following injuries by foxes.
The proposals surrounding mountain hare ignore the most up to date research, published in 2019, which showed that- even after population control- grouse moor management provides a net benefit for mountain hare conservation in Scotland.
These proposals, therefore, effectively seek to legislate against the landholdings sustaining the most robust populations whilst choosing to ignore the non-managed moors where hare populations are in inexorable decline through destruction of habitat and lack of beneficial management.
If the purpose of good legislation is to penalise those doing best- in population terms- then back this proposal. If, however, you do not believe this to be an evidenced step, please respond to the Consultation ahead of the closing date of September 15th 2019.

You can find the Consultation, here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/WildMammals/

The beneficial impacts of fox, crow and stoat control for threatened wading birds.



Thursday, 20 June 2019

SGA FISHING GROUP- IMPORTANT UPDATE


Some recent SGA Fishing Group activity in the news.

Following a meeting of the SGA Committee yesterday (JUNE 19TH), an agreement, in principle, was reached to facilitate the enlargement of the existing SGA Fishing Group at a critical time for wild fisheries and the thousands of vital jobs which go along with it in Scotland’s communities.
There was an understanding between attendees that those whose livelihoods depend on Scotland’s rivers, coupled with concerned anglers and businesses, now need a unified voice and structure to begin tackling some of the major problems identified, quickly.
There was also an acknowledgement of commonality between how the SGA itself formed in 1997 at a time when the gamekeeping, stalking and wildlife management sectors faced a period of unprecedented threat.
Despite many challenges over the years, the organisation has evolved and developed into the strong body it is today.
The SGA would like to thank those who have pledged support to the group so far. This backing is an important first step. There is an acknowledgement that more work needs to be done, in this area, if the group is to achieve future sustainability.
The agreement, in principle, therefore is based on the need for action and unity of voice to preserve the precious asset we have in Scotland and our renowned salmon fisheries.
The SGA will support the SGA Fishing Group’s development through existing resource.
Time resource and support will also be given (initially) within the current structure in the expectation that the group’s activity will propel further membership and attract the kind of financing which will enable further development and be able to finance staffing commitment dedicated exclusively to the group’s needs.
Discussions are presently taking place on initial time resource which can be committed.
Currently, all work plan decisions of the SGA Fishing Group are made by the members, for the members. This is the way the group will continue to be run, from the ground level up, but with backing and technical support from an established organisation with 22 years of experience in dealing with the many issues affecting working people on both land and river.

*A meeting date will be organised shortly for existing SGA Fishing Group members to attend, along with those who have pledged support and others who would like to hear more. Those who have communicated with the SGA office by pledging, will be contacted by the office about the meeting date. There is an acknowledgement that not everyone will be able to make the meeting. However, those in attendance will be able to relay information within the fishing community.

The meeting will serve 2 purposes. 1/ A discussion of group operations and buy-in 2/ a prioritised activity plan until the end of 2019 and beyond.

Friday, 7 June 2019

WORRIED ABOUT SALMON AND JOBS? READ NOW AND RESPOND.



The SGA Fishing Group has held a constructive meeting in Perth with ghillies about the crisis facing salmon, jobs and action needed NOW.

Things discussed were predation and stocking policies. In the west, fish farm regulations. Every river has a problem, for the workers and the anglers. These, and more, must be tackled.

All agreed there is a need now to unite under a banner which has infrastructure, support, political voice and backing. Time left for building organisations from scratch is gone.

Negotiations took place about how the existing SGA Fishing Group could now be expanded to give ghillies and anglers greater political voice. If new members and concerned anglers were to join, country-wide, this could create finance to pay for dedicated time/personnel devoted to saving salmon fishing.

If it is backed, this group would be run by ghillies, river workers and anglers FOR ghillies, river workers and anglers. Its tasks would be decided by its members, as working people and people who love their pastime. No top-down structure, it would be ground-up delivering work the group sets for itself.

The meeting attendees acknowledged some see SGA as a gamekeeper-only body. The SGA Fishing sub-group, formed only a few years ago, now has 18 sitting members and wants to build its activity.

In 1997, the SGA’s keepers and stalkers came together as a group of working people in Scotland to fight for the future of THEIR industry. They carry weight today, with public and politicians.

The fishing section would be separate from the SGA Committee, but would come under the organisation’s established banner, as a sub-group. It would be starting the way the SGA’s keepers started in 1997, but with structure behind it.

If this is to be taken forward, we are looking for genuine pledges of support. That would give an indication of the numbers keen to get involved, so decisions can be taken soon on viability.  Please reply by June 17th 2019 to info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk saying you read about the Fishing Group and want to pledge support to join. If it is decided to move forward with the plan, that pledge can be turned into a membership of £40 per year. No money needs to change hands until any decision is made.

As well as tackling the problems within fishing, SGA membership (£40 a year) gives Public Liability indemnity cover worth £10m, access to discounted legal and employment/HR advice, membership vehicle and clothing discounts, quarterly magazines, access to training and more. If you shoot, the insurance also covers this. See: https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/about-us/why-join.html