For the comic book series, see Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper.

A gamekeeper (often abbreviated to keeper) is a person who looks after an area of countryside to make sure there is enough game for shooting, or fish for angling, and who actively manages areas of woodland, moorland, waterway or farmland for the benefit of game birds, deer, fish and wildlife in general.

Typically, a gamekeeper is employed by a landowner, and often in the UK by a country estate, to prevent poaching, to rear and release game birds such as pheasants and grouse, to control predators such as foxes, to manage habitats to suit game, and to monitor the health of the game.

The United Kingdom

Today, some five thousand full-time gamekeepers are employed in the UK, compared to as many as 10,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, there are many people who spend their leisure time and money rearing game and maintaining habitats on their own small shoots. There are several variations in gamekeeping:

The League Against Cruel Sports estimates some 12,300 wild mammals and birds are killed on UK shooting estates every day and sees gamekeepers as playing a key role in the destruction of wildlife. On the other hand, the shooting industry says that gamekeepers are vital wildlife conservation workers in the countryside. The National Gamekeeper's Organisation (NGO) claims that nine times as much of the British countryside is looked after by gamekeepers as is in nature reserves and National Parks.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has criticised the poisoning of birds of prey on some shooting estates. This is probably the most controversial of all topics surrounding the gamekeeper. However, this is now much rarer than in its heyday, due to better knowledge of the ecology of birds of prey, and cases are generally condemned by the shooting community.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association

In 1997, as a result of months of adverse media criticism of gamekeepers, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) was formed. The goal of this organization is to form a professional group which will help to promote the work gamekeepers do and to develop training in the area of law and best practices in the field of game management.


Some colleges in the UK now offer courses in gamekeeping, up to and including diploma level. One of these is the Northern School of Game and Wildlife at Newton Rigg in Cumbria.

Gamekeepers in fiction


External links

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