Keepers oppose calls for grouse moor licencing

SPORTING interests are united in opposing a call by the Scottish Raptor Study Group that estates, companies and organisers should have to apply for a licence to run group shoots.

Both the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) have come out against the proposal.

In a letter to the Scottish Government, the raptor group said: “The maverick side of the red grouse industry has failed over many years to put its house in order.

“It still has no intention of doing so.”

But SGA chairman, Peeblesshire gamekeeper Alex Hogg described the bid as short-sighted and “throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

“Perpetual over-regulation against responsible estates will simply put people off from investing in Scotland’s countryside, gamekeepers will be taken off the moors and the species which help sustain golden eagles such as red grouse and hares will gradually disappear, in tandem with the lack of management.

“To license all grouse moors in a broad brush fashion, to catch a few bad estates, will unwittingly be of damage to golden eagles.”

The Scottish Countryside Alliance said game birds are already protected under “a plethora” of EU and UK legislation.

Director Jamie Stewart added: “The SCA and other shooting organisations are members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland) and actively contribute to the continued reduction of wildlife crime.”