The UK’s largest shooting organisation has called for the creation of a Scottish gamekeeping taskforce.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) made the plea in its manifesto ahead of the Holyrood elections next month.
It said a gamekeeping taskforce was needed to address “worrying trends” highlighted in research by Scotland’s Rural College on behalf of the Scottish Government.
The research found almost two thirds of gamekeepers had experienced abuse and 80% said they felt less optimistic about their future. Anti-shooting campaigns, a negative portrayal of the shooting sector in the public domain and a lack of government support were cited as possible drivers for the pessimism within the sector.
BASC Scotland’s public affairs manager, Ross Ewing, said a taskforce would help address the negative outlook which is currently griping the profession.
“The establishment of a Scottish gamekeeping taskforce will help to give gamekeepers the representation they deserve, and will place them at the hart of formulating strategies to make things better for a diversity of rural workers the length and breadth of the country,” added Mr Ewing.
“Gamekeepers have a unique set 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.”
Other BASC manifesto requests include: the inclusion of organisations representing gamekeepers, ghillies and deer stalkers in the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime; the national rollout of schemes which promote the management of deer on public land by qualified recreational deer stalkers; and cross-party endorsement and support for the voluntary move away from lead and single-use plastics in shotgun ammunition.