THE Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has spoken out against illegal snaring, claiming the selfish actions of one individual had brought the industry into disrepute.
• Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) hits out at illegal snaring 66-year-old pleads guilty to offence
• SGA says irresponsible actions of one individual has tarnished the industry
Brian Petrie, 66, of Woodhead, Dunphail, near Forres, appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court and pled guilty to three charges including setting snares likely to cause unnecessary suffering by partially or wholly suspending animals, and failing to release or remove an animal from a snare, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
SGA, which represents 5,300 gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers, said those within the game industry in Scotland have worked with government on fine-tuning strict conditions for legal snare use and had been left angered by the case.
A SGA spokesman said: “The Scottish Gamekeepers Association will not tolerate illegal snare use.
“The actions of this individual, who has clearly completely ignored all legislation and training has brought the industry into disrepute. His actions have tarnished the reputation of the vast majority who use snares properly and responsibly for legal and legitimate predator control.
“We would like to make it clear that, if anyone within our own membership was found to be operating snares in this thoughtless and illegal manner, they would no longer be a member of the SGA.
“The responsible use of snares and traps, approved under license by the Scottish government, as a legal tool to control abundant countryside predators, has been proven to have many benefits.
“Where snares are used properly, it keeps abundant predators in balance, benefiting gamebirds and declining birds such as conservation-listed Lapwing and Golden Plover, whose eggs and young are taken by predators such as crows, foxes, stoats and weasels.
“However, the ability to use approved snares carries with it responsibility which has clearly been ignored in this case.”
Gamekeepers and wildlife managers use approved snares, under strict licensing conditions, to reduce abundant countryside predators that prey on ground nesting birds.
Research in 2007 at *Otterburn by Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, showed that on ground where snares and traps were used responsibly, conservation was enhanced.
The breeding success of upland waders rose as much as three-fold on keepered ground where predator control was practiced, compared to ground where it was not.
The SGA said 75 per cent of golden plovers produced young on keepered plots compared to just 18 per cent where predators were not removed.