Getting to know gamekeepers

Published Thursday, 19th December 2019 in Research news

Gamekeeper students at SRUC
Gamekeeper students at SRUC

While they play an important part in the management activities of large areas of Scotland, little is known about the daily lives of gamekeepers and their attitudes, motivations and behaviours. 

This is set to change after a new survey was launched by Scotland’s Rural College – which teaches Gamekeeping at its Elmwood campus in Fife – to find out more about the aspirations and working conditions of gamekeepers, ghillies and stalkers, and the roles they play in rural communities across the country. 

The online survey was developed in conjunction with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). It is fully anonymous and is open to all SGA and BASC gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies.

The work is funded by the Scottish Government to help policy makers better understand the rights, benefits, attitudes, working conditions and future aspirations of those working in game and deer management roles.

Steven Thomson, a Senior Agricultural Economist at SRUC, who is co-ordinating the survey, said: “Gamekeepers play an important role in the management activities of large areas of Scotland. They are also an integral part of the economic benefits that come from sporting activities, but little evidence exists about gamekeeper attitudes, motivations and behaviours.

“We hope the survey will provide a clearer idea of their roles and aspirations.” 

Alex Hogg, SGA Chairman, said: “The survey will provide policy makers with a greater understanding of what motivates land managers today, their working conditions and the challenges they face. It is an opportunity to inform future policy and we would encourage all our members working in the game sector to participate.”

Colin Shedden, Scottish Director of BASC, said: “It is important the key role played by gamekeepers and stalkers in managing so much of Scotland’s rural land is recognised.

“This survey will allow the Scottish Government to appreciate not only the pressures they face in their day-to-day work – such as trap interference, but also the contribution their profession makes to society.”

The survey is part of a larger research project into the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and the rights of gamekeepers being undertaken by SRUC and the James Hutton Institute for the Scottish Government. This work builds on a preliminary review of driven grouse moors and will help provide evidence of knowledge gaps, including on gamekeepers.

The survey will be open until 26 January 2020 and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Gamekeeping members of SGA and BASC have been provided details of how to access the survey through their websites.  Alternatively, a paper copy can be requested from Gamekeeper.Survey@sruc.ac.uk or 0131 535 4304.

For further information on the survey, contact Steven Thomson at steven.thomson@sruc.ac.uk or the Department of Rural Economy Environment and Society, Peter Wilson Building, The King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG.

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