NFU Scotland has used an evidence session in the Scottish Parliament to call for a step change in pace and emphasis in efforts to address the problems being created by wild geese across Scotland.

Speaking to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, NFU Scotland’s Deputy Director of Policy, Andrew Bauer said:

“For years, payments to farmers and crofters affected by geese were seen as the best way to mitigate the impacts. Over time, geese numbers and the damage they cause have grown significantly. Due to the recession, the Scottish Government has reduced geese damage payments to farmers and crofters. These twin pressures have brought the situation to a head, and made most parties understand that we cannot continue on the current track. Money alone will not solve this problem.

“On Islay the situation has deteriorated to the point that farming practices and business viability are at risk. Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage have been working with local farmers to develop a long term management plan to get things onto a better footing.

“The Islay plan makes specific commitments to monitoring and evaluation, and will allow barnacle goose population reductions to happen in a measured and controlled manner. NFU Scotland applauds these efforts and encourages all parties to start implementing the plan as soon as possible.

“For places like Orkney were the challenges stem from quarry geese species such as greylag, the clear message from NFU Scotland is that farmers and crofters must work together to control numbers, and that the sale of geese carcasses can play a key role in underpinning this effort.

“The current Orkney and Uist pilots on the sale of geese carcasses have been successful in reducing waste and bringing much needed income to shooters and others in the supply chain. If we are to see quarry geese populations brought down to sustainable levels, then there will need to be a significant increase in the numbers shot over coming years. To help this happen it is important that the current pilots are altered to allow sale of the carcasses into mainland markets.”