Scottish Election 2021: Gamekeepers want parties to sign up to protect the industry

Targeted anti-shooting campaigns, a lack of government support and the negative portrayal of the gamekeeping industry have led to concerns the profession is becoming “increasingly marginalised” according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation wants Scotland's political parties to establish a Scottish gamekeeping taskforce.

As a result, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has launched a Scottish election manifesto, calling on parties to commit to creating a Scottish gamekeeping taskforce in the next parliament.

BASC said the taskforce was required to address ‘worrying trends’ outlined in recent research by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) which reported almost two thirds of gamekeepers had experienced abuse, while around 80 per cent said that they felt less optimistic about their future.

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Scottish Government minister for rural affairs and the natural environment, Ben Macpherson, has previously said he was “appalled to hear of the experiences” reported by Scotland’s gamekeepers.

However BASC Scotland’s public affairs manager, Ross Ewing, said while that was welcome “it is abundantly clear that much more has to be done to support and protect the profession going forward.”

He added: “The government commissioned SRUC research has clearly identified worrying trends with respect to abuse and crime, and it is unsurprising that a negative outlook is currently griping the profession. The strength of feeling at last month’s rural workers’ protest was palpable.

“The establishment of a Scottish gamekeeping taskforce will help to give gamekeepers the representation they deserve, and will place them at the heart of formulating strategies to make things better for a diversity of rural workers the length and breadth of the country.

“Gamekeepers have a unique set of skills to help tackle biodiversity loss and climate change, and it will be incumbent on the next Scottish Government to act in support of the gamekeeping profession if it intends to harness this considerable potential. We will continue to urge all of Scotland’s political parties to support the establishment of this taskforce without delay.”

He said that the taskforce, comprised of the gamekeeping profession, landowners, academics, Police Scotland, NatureScot and the Scottish Government, would make specific recommendations in response to trends outlined in the SRUC research including those pertaining to crime, abuse, job satisfaction, outlook and women in gamekeeping.

BASC has also argued for gamekeepers to be represented in the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime as over half of gamekeepers have been impacted.

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