August 07 News

News - July-August 07Cops 'persecute' keepers

28.08.07 – Gamekeepers are complaining of 'persecution' by police, aided by Defra and the RSPB, after a series of heavy-handed police raids.

This summer "several NGO members were on the receiving end of unpleasant, unnecessary and ultimately unfair raids," writes Charles Nodder in the latest issue of the National Gamekeepers Organisation magazine, 'Keeping the Balance'.

"Few if any of these raids would have happened without provocation by the bird protectionists," he adds.

Despite the raids, sometimes involving more than 40 officers, no prosecutions for wildlife offences have resulted, Nodder writes. "In one case only, a gamekeeper is admitting minor infringements of pesticide laws because he was unaware that some older pesticides in his possession no longer had valid authorisations."

NGO chairman Lindsay Waddell comments on the incidents: "Most importantly they show that most gamekeepers - even those whom our enemies think must be guilty - have nothing whatever to do with illegal poisoning."

The latest (Autumn 2007) issue of 'Keeping The Balance' includes an NGO Advice Bulletin telling keepers what to do in the event of a police search.


Dog theft on the rise

18.08.07 – Organised criminals are targeting dogs because they are valuable and easily turned into cash – and springers and labs are among the breeds most at risk, according to police and dog watch organisations.

Rumours abound of adult gundogs mysteriously arriving in Britain from France or Ireland, apparently fully trained and having a perfect grasp of commands in English.

Other breeds popular with thieves are lurchers and terriers, particularly staffordshires.

Earlier this year Thames Valley Police set up a scheme to focus on rural communities, and gather intelligence on dog thefts. Jackie Murdock, who heads up the scheme, says that the rate at which dogs are stolen remains a steady trickle, but fears that many keepers don't report it when dogs are stolen.

She appeals to anyone with any information, or even suspicions, to contact her: 08458 505 505 or email

Margaret Nawrockyi of Dog Theft Action advises dog owners living in rural areas to get their dogs permanently identified by microchip or tattoo and DNA registration, and to use CCTV cameras as well as burglar alarms on kennels and homes.

Margaret, whose own dog was stolen and never recovered, now campaigns to get dog theft taken seriously as a crime. Dog Theft Action is holding a symposium on the problem on 6 October.

More information at

FMD: light at the end of the tunnel?

11.08.07 – Shooting is still on hold in many areas, but at last the signs are that the Foot & Mouth outbreak may be petering out.

The fourth farm tested, at Wootton near Dorking in Surrey, has proved to be free of the disease. The temporary control zone around the farm has been lifted.

And tests have now shown that there was no Foot & Mouth in the 362 cattle, sheep, pigs and goats slaughtered at John Emerson's farm near Guildford last week.

Restrictions are still in place, and many shoots and farms have voluntarily suspended stalking and pest shooting. The BASC website spells out the official restrictions. As Mark Elliott has kindly pointed out, the best summary on deer stalking is on the BDS website (click the FMD button). More information is available at the DEFRA website .

More updates and comment at the editor's blog.

Other useful sites:Warmwell Jonathan Miller Sheepdrove

Shooters play safe over FMD risks

08.08.07 – Shooters are playing safe and choosing to stay at home, amid widespread confusion about what is and is not allowed under Foot & Mouth restrictions.

The BASC website spells out the official restrictions. More information is available at the DEFRA website .

Stalking is directly affected, as deer can catch the disease. In fact, stalking is still permitted, with restrictions – but in practice many estates have suspended stalking altogether.

Other types of shooting, such as rabbit shooting and pigeon shooting, are not restricted. But fear of the disease is such that many planned shoots are being cancelled.

Join the debate at the editor's blog.

Other useful sites:Warmwell Jonathan Miller Sheepdrove

Game Fair traders plan to sue CLA

08.08.07 – Traders who lost money when the CLA Game Fair was cancelled are planning to take legal action to recover their stand fees. A 'group action' is being coordinated by Gun Trade News publisher Wes Stanton, who has set up a campaign website .

Foot & Mouth threatens to disrupt shooting

04.08.07 – Foot & Mouth disease is back in Britain – raising fears that the approaching game shooting season may be disrupted.

The outbreak was discovered at a farm near Guildford in Surrey on Thursday. Laboratory tests confirmed Foot & Mouth. All cattle on the premises were culled, and a 3km Protection Zone declared around the farm.

Nationwide restrictions are now in place on animal movements and gatherings. Extra restrictions and heightened biosecurity apply inside a 10km Surveillance Zone around the affected farm.

Although the disease does not affect game birds, unlike Bird Flu, shooters and keepers will be worried that shooting will be disrupted by restrictions on movement of people, vehicles and animals.

The last major outbreak of the disease in Britain, in 2001, caused huge disruption to the countryside and cost the economy an estimated £8bn, amid claims of mismanagement by the government.

Advice will be issued by BASC as soon as the situation is clear. In the meantime, more information is available at the DEFRA website .

The CLA Game Fair site, on the day when it should have been thronging with visitors. It would have been the fair's 49th year.

Traders revolt over Game Fair costs

01.08.07 – Traders are threatening to boycott next year's CLA Game Fair unless the organisers refund their stand fees which they have already paid, after the event was cancelled due to terrible weather (more>>).

"Members of the public have had their tickets refunded, why shouldn't we get our costs back," demanded one irate trader who normally takes a large stand in gunmakers row, and has been told he won't get his stand fees back.

Traders say that they have been hit by a double-whammy, losing up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover and now having to pay for an event that didn't happen.

The traders' misfortune may have a silver lining for shooters, however, with companies selling gear off cheap. And the Midland Game Fair looks set to be busier than ever.

Bad weather hits shoots29.07.07 – The summer's torrential rain has hit shoots hard, as well as causing the CLA Game Fair to be cancelled. Keepers around the country are talking of having to cancel shoot days due to storm damage – ranging from washed-out pens to failure of wild stocks to breed. Others have suffered in various ways – we've heard of litters of pups drowned by flooding, and keepers unable to reach their birds when streams and rivers burst their banks.Not all shoots are affected, however. The effects are localised, and some shoots have escaped almost scot-free. David Whitby, keeper at the Petworth estate in Sussex, told us that he put his birds to wood on 2 July, to allow himself time to deal with the roebuck rut. They were strong, healthy birds, and shrugged off the rain.However Simon Lester, headkeeper of the wild-bird shoot at Holkham in Norfolk, said that hardly a bird – pheasant or partridge – had managed to raise a brood this year, and shooting would almost certainly have to be curtailed this season.How is your shoot coping? Email us: ";s:13:"de