SGA gives evidence on Grouse bill

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg told the Rural Affairs Committee of the welfare benefits of new snare replacements

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg gave evidence to the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee on Wednesday during the second evidence session of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill. 

Following a morning session involving members of the Werritty panel, Alex and Ross Ewing from Scottish Land and Estates were the representatives selected to advocate for game interests.

Both provided important points on wildlife trap licensing, snaring and additional SSPCA powers.

Alex provided explanations for committee members on trap usage in the countryside, emphasising the training and high standards apparent within the gamekeeping profession.

He and Ross also made the case for a specific offence for trap vandalism and tampering, something which Mike Flynn of SSPCA backed during the discussions.

Having a separate offence for trap damage and tampering has been an SGA priority for years, with members suffering increasing interference to their legal work tools.

The organisation will continue to push for this throughout the passage of the Bill.

There were robust but respectful exchanges on whether the SSPCA should receive more powers, with Alex stating the only body with the necessary neutrality for investigating wildlife crime was Police Scotland.

Ross from SLE pointed out that Police Scotland themselves had expressed significant misgivings on the issue of greater powers for SSPCA.

SGA NEWS photo

Convener Finlay Carson asked Mike Flynn whether he felt SSPCA would feel compromised when investigating snaring cases, given that the organisation may have been in receipt of financial donations for their campaigns to ban snares. 

On snaring, the case was made for the phase-out of current snare types and the adoption of humane holding devices; something proposed to Minster Mairi McAllan and new Minister Mairi Gougeon by the SGA Grouse Taskforce.

Whilst Libby Anderson from Scottish Animal Welfare Commission said these devices had been considered when the Commission made its recommendation to ban, her mimicking of the wording of the recent SGA video- and subsequent lines of questioning on ‘independent testing’- cast doubt on that assertion. 

Mike Flynn admitted that he had only seen the new devices ‘on the SGA website’ which suggests that those campaigning to ban snares have not seen these new devices in field situations.


Before Scottish Government make any moves on snaring at Stage 2, it is surely incumbent on them take the time to explore this option robustly, in the interests of an evidence-based approach.


You can watch a demonstration video of the new humane holding devices, below.


Whilst legislation was something the SGA and workers in the grouse sector hoped to avoid, there were some positive interjections on grouse moor management which were made by the experts on the panel, led by Dundee University Professor, Alan Werritty.

Grouse Moor benefits

Professor Ian Newton, whilst speaking pointedly on the issue of raptor persecution, nevertheless spoke positively on the benefits of skilled predator control for red listed species and the professionalism with which controlled muirburn is carried out today by grouse moor gamekeepers. He also stated that, aside from persecution, grouse moor management was the least environmentally damaging upland land use, when compared to forestry and upland sheep farming.


The following 3 short video clips give a flavour of those comments.




You can watch the FULL session on:


The next evidence sessions, covering Grouse Moor licensing and Muirburn, will be on Wednesday 21st June, followed by a session with Minister Mairi Gougeon on Wednesday June 28th. 








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