Gamekeepers have said they are being treated like “pawns in done deals” on wildlife made by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said its members’ morale is “at an all-time low”.

The organisation submitted a response to the consultation on banning the use of snare traps in Scotland, complaining a decision already appears to have been made on the matter.

Humza Yousaf’s first Programme for Government said snaring will be banned through the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill.

The SGA also opposes plans to increase investigatory powers for the Scottish SPCA.

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Its statement said: “This is a consultation coming about after a decision has been made and announced.

“In our view, therefore, it is a consultation which seems more about ticking a box to meet a minimum legal requirement to consult, rather than representing a genuine and meaningful consultation.”

The association said it is the approved training body for snare operators so should have been consulted on the plans earlier.

It continued: “Bluntly, our members are sick of being pawns in what they perceive to be ‘done deals’ and, on evidence, it is hard to argue. This response is on their behalf.”

The SGA suggested the snaring decision was part of the SNP’s co-operation agreement with the Greens, saying: “What, realistically, is the point of this consultation?

“It would be illuminating, for the benefit of all those soon to be directly impacted, to know whether the decision to ban snaring was recent or whether it formed part of the discussions at Bute House some time back in 2021.”

The SGA also said the Scottish SPCA is not “suitably impartial” to receive new investigatory powers for wildlife crime.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government takes consultation on proposed legislation very seriously.

“We consulted extensively on the introduction of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill, and even though there was no legal obligation to consult we did so on measures being introduced at stage 2 of the Bill such as the proposed ban on snaring.

“Likewise, we announced our intentions to amend deer legislation back in 2021 and have since discussed those extensively with stakeholders – this included a formal consultation process.

“We recognise the depth of feeling associated with these issues.

“Although stakeholders may not always agree with our proposals, we always take care to ensure that all views are given careful consideration.”