Scottish groups divided over Covid-19 measures

New Covid-19 measures in Scotland will “cut the legs from under stalking businesses” says the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADGM).

Following the Scottish governments late u-turn over the ‘one household rule’, ADGM Chairman Richard Cooke also suggested that the new restrictions will have a severe impact on Scotland’s stalking businesses just as the stag season gets underway properly.

“This really cuts the legs from under many rural businesses throughout Scotland that rely on let stalking income to fund deer management, particularly to pay the wages of regular and seasonal employees,” Mr Cooke remarked.

“The new restrictions on self-catering accommodation, requiring that only one family can stay in rented holiday accommodation at any one time, will now prevent many planned stalking visits by people from Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

“We undertook a survey earlier this year, looking at the damage that could result from such measures, and from that arrived at a figure of up to £9m loss across Scotland’s rural sector, not including lost or devalued venison sector.”

Despite criticism from the ADGM, as well as from animal rights activists, Scottish Lands and Estates (SLE) has defended the decision to exempt grouse shooting from Covid restrictions that limit gathering to six people. SLE have also argued that the move will have a positive effect on the Scottish economy.

The organisation, which represents estate owners and land managers, said country sports had been “unfairly singled out” for criticism from campaign groups such as OneKind.

Shoots in Scotland have already implemented measures such transporting smaller numbers of shooters in more vehicles, compulsory hand sanitising and staff wearing face coverings. Catering is also run in line with rules applied to restaurants.

SLE chief executive Sarah-Jane Laing, said: “Over recent days, we have seen an array of calls being made for country sports, including grouse shooting to be halted, which would deliver a crushing blow to the rural economy at a time when it has already been struggling during the pandemic.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said grouse shooting supported 2,640 full-time jobs in Scotland, with 8,800 people employed in different roles in total.

The SGA added that a “significant proportion” of the jobs were in remote areas, and that holding no shoots at all this year would have led to overall loses of £8.5m across 32 estates.

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