Calls made for Scottish government to continue greylag goose support

The National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) Scottish branch has called for the Scottish government to continue funding of greylag goose management schemes. 

The Union also highlighted that the geese populations were becoming more common in a wider range of places in Scotland. To aid growing populations, NFU Scotland is requesting the Scottish government to make provisions for supporting new pilot schemes in these parts of the country.

Orkney, Tiree & Coll and Uist goose groups have stressed the need for an urgent clear plan for long-term management of greylag and barnacle geese, and for adaptive pilot schemes for the former. These requests have been backed by NFU Scotland.

A pilot scheme was introduced in 2012 which gave locals the ability to control the resident greylag goose population. Licensed controls meant that the sale of geese does not drive up the number of birds shot to unsustainable levels. However, the initiative reaches its conclusion this month.

In a letter to the government, vice-president of NFU Scotland, Martin Kennedy, said the proposed winding down of the adaptive management pilot on Orkney would not just impact farmers and crofters, but would also affect the efforts to improve water quality on the islands.

“Goose management continues to be a vital, but resource-intensive exercise in many of the most economically fragile parts of Scotland where grazing by large populations of geese challenges the viability of farmers and crofters,” said Kennedy.

“We are acutely aware of the competing pressures on all public-sector budgets, but we firmly believe that existing funding levels for each goose management scheme or pilot project must be maintained until ways can be found to effectively and efficiently manage geese populations to sustainable levels and keep them there. We are calling on the Scottish government to provide new funding to sustain the greylag adaptive management pilots – to avoid losing the benefits of previous investment and to protect farmers, crofters and others.

“And, with large populations of geese establishing themselves elsewhere in Scotland, it is also important we plan for the future,” he added. “If existing or new areas provide appropriate evidence on the need for new management schemes, then NFU Scotland believes, in the interests of fairness, that new funds should be allocated rather than being top-sliced from existing goose schemes.”

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