Gamekeeping Taskforce “needed now more than ever”

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A year on from BASC Scotland’s call for the establishment of a Gamekeeping Taskforce, the Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan MSP, has been urged to address the ongoing difficulties facing gamekeepers and rural workers in managing the countryside.

Ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election BASC Scotland called for the creation of a Scottish Gamekeeping Taskforce in the next parliament. The move came amid concerns the profession is becoming increasingly marginalised.

The multilateral taskforce was set to address ‘worrying trends’ outlined in research undertaken by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). However, one year on, little progress has been made by the Scottish Government in implementing plans to establish a taskforce.

The research highlighted that almost two-thirds of gamekeepers surveyed had experienced abuse. Furthermore, more than half of gamekeepers included in the research had been impacted by rural crime, including hare coursing and deer poaching.

BASC Scotland’s vision for the taskforce is for it to include a range of rural stakeholders, including the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), Police Scotland and NatureScot. The taskforce would act as a conduit to achieve government policy changes to tackle difficulties facing gamekeepers.

In light of the lack of progress, BASC Scotland has once again written to Màiri McAllan, reiterating the calls for the taskforce establishment.

The taskforce is needed now more than ever, particularly given fresh challenges including avian flu and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Peter Clark, Public Affairs Manager for BASC Scotland, said: “We are a year on and there has been a lack of action from the Scottish Government over the establishment of a gamekeepers’ taskforce.

“The research and evidence are abundantly clear – gamekeepers and rural workers face abuse for simply carrying out vital conservation work to protect Scotland’s rich biodiversity and landscapes.

“In our letter to the Minister, BASC Scotland highlighted how the sector now faces new challenges ahead, with the ongoing impact of avian flu affecting the importation of game birds and consequentially, the upcoming shooting season.

“Compounded by the cost-of-living crisis, the Scottish Government could show their increased support for gamekeepers at this difficult time, by progressing this simple policy which has very little effect on the public purse.

“BASC Scotland has offered to support them in advancing the taskforce. Now it is down to the Scottish Government to act accordingly.”