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Biased wildlife crime DVD withdrawn from schools

A controversial DVD on wildlife crime, which was made in 2006 and used by Tayside police as an educational tool in schools, has been withdrawn following a campaign by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).

SGA chairman Alex Hogg wrote to the Scottish Government and Iain Macleod, the Association of Chief Police Officers? head of wildlife crime in Scotland, to have the DVD removed from schools with immediate effect.

In the letter Mr Hogg wrote: ?We believe the comments made by Tayside police?s wildlife liaison co-ordinator Alan Stewart in this DVD could negatively influence opinion about gamekeepers and shooting and goes against the agreed objectives of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAW). I fear that the continued circulation of this DVD would seriously undermine the efforts we are making to build bridges between keepers and the police.

In one section of the DVD, Mr Stewart told viewers: ?A golden eagle was seen over a grouse drive and the owner was heard to say that he did not expect to see golden eagles on his grouse moor and that it had better not be there on the next shooting day.?

Elsewhere Mr Stewart stated that the reason buzzards were previously scarce was because of ?poisoning, shooting and trapping in the name of game rearing?.

Mr Hogg?s appeal was backed by other industry groups such as the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA).

Ross Montague of the SCA said: ?We have worked closely with our sister charity, the SCA Educational Trust, and the SGA to produce a moorlands education DVD for schools, which we have now begun distributing. If a DVD is going to attempt to deal with this sensitive subject, the message will be most effective, clear and less likely to cause offence if all sides work together on it.?

The SGA has been assured no further copies of the DVD will be distributed and a new DVD will be produced under the auspices of PAW.

Responding to the SGA?s criticism, a spokesman for Tayside police said: ?It is regrettable the SGA feels the DVD is biased and critical of its members. That is definitely not Mr Stewart?s intention. He has worked hard over the years to maintain a good working relationship with its members and is disappointed with this outcome.?

The spokesman added the police will consult all interested parties when they make a new version: ?Due to the passage of time and changes in the legislation the DVD is now due for an update. The next version is intended to promote a similar message and will be available to all those who are working to combat wildlife crime and preserve the diversity of our environment.?

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