The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) is calling on the Scottish Government to clarify its policy on issuing licences to cull protected predators, after its chairman’s application was rejected, despite giving the required evidence as stated in Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) guidelines. “On 5 August I received a letter telling me my application for a licence to control buzzards had been rejected,” explained the SGA’s Alex Hogg. The letter, from the Scottish Government’s head of species management, Hugh Dignon, stated: The primary reason for refusing your application is that we do not consider the losses you have suffered constitute a serious economic loss that would justify the lethal control of these wild birds. We do not accept that these losses should be measured at the potential value of the poults if they survive to adulthood, but rather at the actual cost to you in acquiring them as poults. Mr Hogg explained that in one pen of 600 poults, fewer than 300 now remain as a direct result of incessant predation. In Mr Hogg’s reply he stated: I read and followed SNH’s guidance then made a justifiable argument for a licence to control buzzards, which have had a massive impact on my work as a gamekeeper. Unfortunately, there appears to be a major gap in the understanding of your officials. It beggars belief that you are not prepared to accept that the potential value of the poults is their market value. When farmers encounter losses they make assessments based on the market value of their stock. The same criteria should be used for the game industry. In response to the SGA’s calls, a Scottish Government spokesperson told Shooting Times: “This was the first application to control buzzards taking pheasant poults that we have received since 2005. It was judged that no application received to date has met the legal requirements to allow a licence to be issued. “We have therefore offered to discuss the evidence that would justify a licence for predator control for the purpose of protecting reared gamebirds with industry representatives.”