Gamekeepers – Guardians Of The British Countryside
Gamekeepers have been guardians of the British countryside for centuries, playing an important role in sustainably and actively managing designated areas of the countryside. The original gamekeeper role involved the protection of deer in medieval royal hunting forests, then very gradually over the years, the role evolved and developed organically into the modern role.
Eden Private Staff are able to provide our clients on country estates with the highest quality gamekeepers available.
The 21st Century Gamekeeper
Today’s gamekeepers collectively manage in access of 15 million acres of rural land throughout the UK and yet, ask most people if they have ever met a gamekeeper and the answer is likely to be a resounding “no”. This is not actually surprising, because despite the fact that they are responsible for the management of such vast areas, there are only in the region of 5,000 individuals employed as a full time gamekeeper in the UK today.
Going on the basis that the closest most people have ever come to a gamekeeper is their acquaintance with the character Oliver Mellors in the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence, here is a brief outline of some of the tasks that keep gamekeepers busy in the 21st Century!
Rearing Game For The Lucrative Shooting Industry
It is estimated that the shooting industry in the UK creates more than £1.5 billion each year and a large quantity of the land that is managed by gamekeepers is used for organised shoots. Although the shoots are a controversial topic in many circles, the money generated by them is an important source of income for many estates across the UK, providing employment for local people and bringing much need money into local communities. A large percentage of the income that is generated also pays for vital conservation work on estates, benefitting natural habitats and conserving wildlife within the boundaries of the estate property and beyond.
Many gamekeepers are actively involved with the rearing of game birds for shoots and a large percentage of the birds raised are used for this purpose. Pheasants cannot fly long distances and spend much of their time on the ground. It is a common opinion that if the shooting of game birds was banned and gamekeepers were no longer rearing them, the likely result would be the disappearance of these and many other birds (game and non-game) from the British countryside, courtesy of our friend Mr Fox…
Pest & Predator Control
On the subject of foxes, the control of predators and pests, including foxes, weasels, rats and crows is another key responsibility of the gamekeeper. Numbers are kept under control through methods including shooting, snaring, trapping and in the case of rodents, the careful use of bait boxes and very occasionally carefully controlled and administered poison.
The Sustainable Management Of Deer
Ever since wolves disappeared from the British countryside, deer have had no natural predator to keep their numbers in check and this responsibility has fallen into the hands of the nations gamekeepers. A percentage of deer are culled humanely each year and the quality meat from many of these animals enters the human food chain.
Policing The Countryside
An important part of the gamekeepers role often includes the patrol of their territory, (frequently during unsociable hours), with a view to the prevention of crimes including poaching, the unlawful fly tipping and dumping of property and general acts of vandalism.
Management Of Habitat
Gamekeepers manage a variety of different habitats in the countryside, creating the ideal conditions for wildlife to thrive healthily in our woodland, moorland and waterways. The role is tough, often involving long hours but for many who are passionate about the health our countryside this is an excellent and highly rewarding occupation.