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27 June, 2019

More support for Orkney farmers tackling greylag geese

Scottish Natural Heritage today announced a comprehensive package of measures to help Orkney farmers and crofters tackle crop damage by greylag geese.

Working with the Orkney Goose Management Group, SNH is supporting the following initiatives:

  • Volunteer shooters will be available again this year in August and September to undertake goose control on farms which are experiencing issues with geese. Farmers may contact the SRUC Kirkwall Office (01856 872698) for more information and support.

  • An expert in corralling geese will visit, and advise farmers on how this might be implemented on Orkney.

  • Open training for egg-oiling will be available. SNH will also fund contractors to carry out egg oiling on specific areas next season.

  • A study will be completed to help create an Orkney–wide plan to reduce geese numbers. This will consider the practicalities, cost, and locations for a number of possible measures to bring the population to 5,000 birds, including shooting, egg oiling, corralling, and any other measures that could be effective.

  • A new Orkney-specific licence will cover the period from 1 February to 30 June, outside the open shooting season and the time covered by the General Licence. This means farmers will no longer be required to apply to the SNH Licensing team for an out-of-season licence, but can make a quick call to the Kirkwall office for permission. (Currently, greylag geese can be shot under the General Licence from 1 July until 31 August, and during the open season from 1 September to 31 January.)

  • SNH is considering further changes to licences, in particular a mechanism to increase bag limits, and a possible extension to the General Licence currently available in July and August to include May and June.

SNH will also continue to work with the Scottish Government to extend the current Orkney goose meat pilot Scotland-wide, and to secure consent to sell goose meat after the UK’s expected exit from the EU.

Graham Neville, SNH’s Northern Isles and North Highland area manager, said:

“We understand increases in greylag goose numbers have seriously impacted on farmers and crofters on Orkney. Working closely with the local goose management group, we have committed to measures that will help protect crops, while still maintaining the balance between conservation, farming and hunting.”

This follows on an announcement earlier this week that the sale of goose meat has been extended in Orkney and the Western Isles. For more on this, see www.nature.scot/sale-goose-meat-extended-isles

-ENDS-

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Notes to editors

The Orkney Greylag Goose Management Group includes local farmers, NFU Scotland, Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division, Scottish Natural Heritage, SAC Consulting, RSPB Scotland, and Orkney Islands Council.

Populations of resident graylag geese expanded very rapidly in Orkney in recent years, resulting in farmers and crofters struggling to control their impacts using traditional means. In Scotland, farmers and crofters have traditionally controlled resident graylag goose impacts with non-lethal and lethal scaring, undertaking lethal control in the open season and, under much of the closed season, under licence from SNH. 

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig www.nature.scot/gaelic no lean air Twitter sinn aig https://twitter.com/nature_scot

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Greylag geese grazing on a cereal crop in Orkney - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

Greylag geese grazing on a cereal crop in Orkney - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

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