Thursday, 30 July 2020

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust launching online services to support gamekeepers’ wives and partners

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) is launching a new initiative to address the problem of depression and mental health issues in the countryside, exacerbated by Covid 19.

The HIND training course focuses on mental well being and awareness, coping strategies and building resilience. This course has been built and will be delivered by one of our volunteers Sally Thompson who is a mental health professional.

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust is aware of the pressures and difficulties rural families can face through work related issues, ill health (both physical and mental health), financial pressures, isolation and loneliness and that “it is ok not to be ok.”

A key focus is to address these issues in a practical manner, which led to ‘The Stag Training Initiative’ created by The GWT and IED Training Solutions, a company established by several former Royal Marines.  Following on from this success the HIND course is a natural next step. 

CEO Helen Benson said “We know how important it is to ensure families and individuals are supported in difficult times. The partners of gamekeepers are often the lynchpin of the family unit, keeping the family going when times are tough.  Supporting and encouraging anyone who is or could be affected is the aim of the HIND course and providing strategies to cope in addition providing information of further services and contacts if required.”

The course is held online with accompanying notes and support throughout, is free and is held in 7 sessions over 2-3 weeks.  There are six delegates on each course which is held on a confidential platform.  Further details or booking can be made by telephone 01677 470180 or email: enquiries@thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com


Tuesday, 28 July 2020

CHAIRMAN'S BLOG: POISONING THWARTS PROGRESS

  A JUVENILE WHITE TAILED EAGLE
The news that a Sea Eagle had been found poisoned in Donside has dominated the headlines. It makes me personally sad and angry. We were quick to condemn it yesterday, as soon as we heard the news. 
When the SGA formed, one of the first things we discussed at our earliest meetings with Government at the new Parliament was how we could get on top of poisoning in our countryside, which was getting way out of hand. 
We can judge things differently today but anyone who has been in land management for any length of time will know that pesticide was used fairly liberally at one time. Sheep farmers, if they are honest with themselves, will nod to that and, in our industry, we knew it had to stop.
The SGA made a commitment at our AGM that we, as a newly formed organisation, were firmly opposed to the use of illegal poisons and that we would work to stop it.
Through my feelings of anger yesterday at this incident, I was also rippling at the suggestion from many online commentators that the SGA had not been able to control its membership when it came to poison.
There are a lot of good land managers in the area in question who I know would not have touched that bird. I know them and their management. That leaves unanswered questions and I hope the Police get all the support they need to find the culprits and bring them to justice.
Obviously, judgement has already been delivered in the courtroom of Twitter. I am not saying I or the SGA know anything different, because we don’t, but we certainly want to establish facts and hope the Police find those facts so we get more light as opposed to endless heat.
Secondly, the SGA has been a very important player in the successful reduction in illegal wildlife poisonings in Scotland. The official, verified figures (apparently now less important than figures produced by campaigning NGOs) show very clearly how land-management related poisoning has dropped dramatically in Scotland.
Incidents, these days, tend to be isolated and we welcome that, wholeheartedly.
That is why yesterday felt like a return to a different time. We have acted with zero tolerance when it comes to poisoning and, while our many critics prefer to ignore the official statistics, the numbers still speak for themselves.
When these incidents happen, amidst the anger and emotion, we tend to forget how far we have come from the 2010 figures showing 32 poisoning incidents in Scotland. 
Official Scottish Government quarterly figures from SASA indicated that there were no incidents of abuse of poisons in 2019. See: https://www.sasa.gov.uk/document-library/wiis-quarterly-reports-2019
Again, many people will bat this away as irrelevant. To me, the figures are important. These are figures approved by the Scottish Government’s appointed toxicologists.
Wildlife crime continues, of course, and that is rightly met with scorn. Opponents of shooting, particularly grouse shooting, say tactics have changed. 
The SGA acknowledges that some tagged birds have been illegally killed and this is unacceptable. We can make that message no clearer. We continue to work with Police Scotland and, for a small mostly voluntary body, commit a lot of our organisational time to wildlife crime related issues.
However, we do not believe that the numbers suggested are the truth and the proliferation of non-independent NGOs involved today in wildlife crime investigations makes it extremely difficult to get to the truth.
This, sadly, is now a politically weaponised field and that is why we petitioned Scottish Parliament last year for independent monitoring of satellite tags. The type of neutral information which bodies like SASA can deliver would be invaluable in getting to that truth, where there is nothing else but fury and noise.
As with this poisoned Sea Eagle, we want the facts. If you can help Police Scotland, do so by calling 101.



Monday, 27 July 2020

STATEMENT: POISONED SEA EAGLE, DONSIDE.

Statement from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) on the press release issued today from Police Scotland regarding a poisoned Sea eagle, Donside.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Given the major progress made in virtually eradicating illegal wildlife poisoning in Scotland, hearing this news is extremely disappointing. The SGA condemns it wholeheartedly.
In 2010, there were 32 wildlife poisonings in Scotland. That was unacceptable. The SGA committed to Scottish Government that we would do all we could to address the issue within our own industry. We delivered on that promise. Today, thankfully, these cases are now extremely rare in this country. 
This incident sets back considerable progress made by stakeholders over the last decade- and more- in addressing poisoning. The SGA fully supported the Scottish Government’s illegal pesticide amnesty in 2015 and continues to educate on this subject.
We acknowledge Sea eagles can pose problems in land management; something which is well documented, but this is absolutely the wrong way to address a conflict. The SGA reiterates its condemnation.”

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Country Sports Proposed Framework For Appropriate Covid-19 Precautions

Following collaboration between the shooting organisations in Scotland we have worked together to produce the following guidance for the coming season, this guidance will of course be subject to our members follow the Scottish Government guidance at the time, so please check the link regularly. If you have specific queries, please contact the SGA office who will assist where possible.