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SACS - CORONAVIRUS AND SHOOTING GUIDANCE

SACS COVID-19 GUIDANCE

SACS - CORONAVIRUS AND SHOOTING GUIDANCE

(as at 0915 Wednesday 25 March 2020)

Covid-19, shooting and country sports

SACS has had a number of queries in relation to the COVID-19 restrictions and shooting, stalking and fishing. The guidance from Government is clear that people should stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel or interaction with persons outwith our households. We would ask members to apply both discretion, common sense and solidarity with the wider community at this difficult time.

The key drive from the Government is to stop transmission of the virus between households. If anything you are planning to do either risks that transmission or carries a risk of you getting injured and becoming a burden on the NHS at this time of national crisis, then you should not do it.

Please remember that the national lockdown is not a holiday; there are thousands of people working on our behalf in the emergency services, NHS and Government who face grave risk away from their families and homes. In the fight to keep us all safe, some of them may die. To fight this war, if the Government is simply asking us to stay at home as much as possible and avoid contact with other persons and households, then that is the very least the responsible shooting and country sports community can do. No rifle, bayonet and tin hat - just patience and fortitude.

That said, pest control and shooting are in our view essential for the national food effort and maintaining a functioning rural economy. Any pest control shooting or outdoors work should only take place when it is absolutely essential. If you have to ask whether your proposed activity is essential, then it probably isn’t.

Exercise away from home

(Updated) During the Covid-19 lockdown there are four reasons people can leave the house:

  1. Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.

  2. Exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.

  3. Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

  4. Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Therefore, you should only be using your car or vehicle for these essential reasons only.

Deer management

We are aware that SNH, Forest & Land Scotland have suspended deer management and that the BDS have declared deer management to not be essential and that deer managers should stay at home. We are also aware of game dealers suspending business and not accepting deer carcases. Please find a link below to guidance from ADMG advising that deer management activities are non-essential and should stop until further notice.

https://mailchi.mp/856162248303/e-scope-issue-134-the-online-update-from-admg?e=359d4a405c

And please follow this link to an article on the Covid-19 restrictions: Fieldsports News article

It is down to individual landowner and occupiers to decide whether deer management is essential to them at this time of crisis. In the meantime, we would advise the precautionary principle and discretion.

Airgunning

As with all shooting sports, airgunning is a statistically very safe activity - unlike the activity recommended by Government of cycling. Nothing wrong with cycling, but shooting is clearly less of a risk of adding to the NHS burden. If you have a back garden or local landholding that allows for safe and appropriate airgunning, then that should be fine as a period of exercise and fresh air as long as you are doing it away from potential contact with other persons. If you normally go to a club for airgunning then, following the latest restrictions, that club should now be closed until further guidance on the situation.

These Government restrictions are not to stop individual freedoms, but to effectively stop transmission of the virus between persons and households. Further, as this worsens it is likely that there will be righter restrictions and the conversation about going out shooting becomes irrelevant. Hopefully that does not happen and the situation improves for all citizens.

Fishing

Sadly, recreational fishing cannot possibly be argued as an essential activity! However,In we would absolutely promote fishing alone as a good form or mental and physical exercise. If you have fishing local to you and it can be done well away from other persons and you are following guidance and minimising transmission risks, then we do not see an issue with that. Again, as with shooting or other activities individual discretion applies. None of these activities have as yet been banned, but please apply common sense and due caution.

Police powers

Sadly, one or two members have asked what powers the police have in relation to the restrictions. New laws have come into force in each country, but frankly if the police have to rely on legal powers to ask supposedly responsible certificate holders to do the right thing to keep themselves, loved ones and others alive and well, then we are in a bad place.

These are not normal times - this is an extraordinary national emergency. To those who as yet do not grip the reality of this situation, please switch on - many thousands of lives are at stake and potentially you or those close to you.

The shooting, fishing and stalking seasons

Whilst we do not have a crystal ball or have access to members with the ‘second sight’, we can only speculate when the bulk of the national emergency will have calmed down. Whatever the timings, shooting, stalking, fishing and other country sports will continue strongly. Look at it this way, when we come out on the other side of this immediate crisis most will be champing at the bit to be out and about with friends, rod, gun, rifle and dogs. And, as a community, we will come out of this crisis. This is an historical event – we should look back on it with pride for the part that we played, whilst remembering those no longer with us. In this crisis, and despite the tragedies and loss of life to come, our conduct and forbearance should be exemplary.

Reality check

Please remember that when we entered the COVID-19 era, our economy was on a strong footing. Though there will be major economic effects, this is not a systemic financial crisis like 2008 - it is simply a human health emergency. We will get through this and there will be many shooting and fishing seasons ahead. Stay positive and keep the faith. We will get through this by sticking together.

In summary: stay at home as much as you can. If you cannot reasonably justify an activity away from home as essential, then please do not do it.

To those of you in the health or emergency services, thank you for what you are doing for us. We do not take your sacrifice and the risks you take for granted.

SACS office and COVID-19

Despite the current crisis, and helped by volunteer members, SACS continues to provide member service and represent its members on a broad spectrum of work. This is an exceptionally busy year on many fronts. We have closed the office, but work continues from homes with lines on divert. We will be issuing a member update shortly to cover a number of current matters.

Meantime, any members in isolation who need a friendly chat, feeling lonely (don't be ashamed of loneliness - it affects us all) or just want to sound off in frustration are welcome to give Alex a call on 07879 550750. If it's a renewal or membership query, then please get in touch on the office number 01350 724228 or info@sacs.org.uk.

Remember, SACS isn’t an insurance company, it is a grassroots shooting and country sports family. Don’t be a stranger – give us a call if you need. We are here for each other.