NEARLY two thirds of Scottish gamekeepers have been threatened or abused in the course of their work.

A new study has suggested that as many as 64% of Scottish gamekeepers experience threatening behaviour or abuse from members of the public at least once every year.

The revelation comes as part of a wider research, commissioned by the Scottish Government, into the employment rights of gamekeepers. The study surveyed 152 gamekeepers, which constitutes over 10% of the Scottish gamekeeping population.

Among its other findings was a suggestion that up to 79% of gamekeepers feel less optimistic about their future, which is reportedly driven by targeted anti-shooting campaigns, a lack of government support and the negative portrayal of shooting in the public domain.

BASC Scotland’s political and press officer, Ross Ewing, said: “The findings of this research are deeply concerning and suggest that a significant number of gamekeepers across the country are experiencing unacceptable levels of abusive or threatening behaviour.

“It is clear that this contemptuous behaviour is in part a product of concerted and maligned campaigns against shooting. It is incumbent on the Scottish Government to condemn this abuse and take steps to support Scotland’s gamekeepers who make an important and undervalued contribution to both society and the managed countryside.”

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Liz Smith MSP, said: “The alarming amount of threatening behaviour and abuse being levelled at Scotland’s gamekeepers is reprehensible.

“Gamekeepers play a critical role in managing the Scottish countryside and they should absolutely be able to conduct their work without fear of being threatened or abused. The Scottish Government needs to do more to listen to and support the gamekeeping profession, and it should take steps without delay to ensure all gamekeepers feel like valued members of society.”