Tuesday, 10 September 2019

SIGN THE SGA PETITION FOR INDEPENDENT MONITORING OF SATELLITE TAGS


There are 13 days left to sign the SGA petition calling for independent monitoring of satellite tags fitted to raptors, in Scotland. 
If you want to see an independent body overseeing satellite tags so that evidence replaces speculation and trial by media, please add your name to the petition. 
Should the Police have immediate access to all the relevant data to assist them to do their job, or should they have to wait to be given it by third party campaigners? If you want to see change to the way satellite tag information is utilised today, sign now. The petition will close on September 23rd.






Monday, 2 September 2019

SGA SEEKS TALKS ON DEER NIGHT SHOOTING TOOLS

Red deer Stags in Forestry
Normalising the shooting of deer at night will have long term implications for their welfare and distribution says Scotland’s deer managers who want to be consulted on new control methods. 
Public agencies are considering thermal and night vision equipment with a view to potentially legalising its use for lowering deer numbers.
Shooting deer at night is prohibited in Scotland unless authorised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and is not legal in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark or Austria.
However, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) believe Scotland’s iconic deer are already changing their behaviour due to being targeted by controllers in darkness.
Applications to SNH to control deer at night to protect forestry have risen by over 300 percent in the last decade, as public agencies move from fencing as a management solution.
The SGA believes this, coupled with recreational disturbance, is causing deer to move into areas such as the lowlands, where mounting damage and vehicle collisions are occurring.
They fear that, if new technology normalises night shooting further, there will be unconsidered animal health consequences as well as major changes to the way Scotland’s deer behave.
“There are a number of positive uses for this equipment currently in spotting and counting deer*, but what we ask is that professional deer managers are consulted on how the technology is to be used in future,” said SGA Vice Chairman, Peter Fraser.
“There is a wider picture. Deer feed in the morning and rest up during the day. However, due to more people using the hills, they can be on the move in daylight and they are also getting targeted now at night time to protect forestry. They are constantly harassed, which causes them to disperse and also impacts on body health.
“Whilst the technology has merits, it could further legitimatise night shooting in Scotland and we will move further away from managing deer in daylight and in season which is better for welfare, safety, quality venison and is more selective and humane than just killing any deer.
“We need to be asking why we have got to a place where night shooting of an iconic species in Scotland has become more of a first resort, yet it is illegal in many European countries.”
Studies on roe deer in Denmark showed that, even where deer were not targeted at night, day time disturbance caused the deer to miss out on feeding for 1 hr and 22 minutes after being disturbed by recreational activity.
It was concluded that several disturbances per day could affect physical fitness and reproductive potential, even without deer also being placed under additional pressure at night. 
Deer distribution also changed during the study and similar multi-party research is now underway in Glen Lyon, involving red deer.
“Thermal and night vision equipment use needs to be seen in the wider context. That is what we want,” said stalker, Lea MacNally. 
“Better forest design and strategic fencing would eliminate many of the problems some feel are driving a need for the technology and, in the hands of poachers, it could make detection and conviction (of poachers) almost impossible. If the Deer Act is to be changed to permit its use for managing deer, consideration should be given to licensing it, with compulsory training.”


*Thermal imaging spotters are currently legal for counting and identifying deer at night. However, it is illegal to shoot a deer using thermal/ night vision scopes on rifles.

Statistics:


  • Over the last 10 years, the red deer annual cull (Scotland) has stood around 60 000 animals per year.
  • Over the last 10 years, the roe deer annual cull (Scotland) has stood around 30 000 animals per year.
  • Red deer are now understood to be declining in Scotland following substantial local reduction culls. Mammal data from BTO Breeding Bird Surveys show the red deer has declined for the past 21 years, in squares monitored by BTO.
  • Roe deer numbers are understood to be increasing due to an improvement and extension of their habitat, mainly in the lowlands. 
  • Sources: SNH (cull data), BTO and Association of Deer Management Groups (population estimates).