Saturday, 20 December 2014

Islay Goose Management Strategy

Scottish Natural Heritage have again done themselves proud by announcing this goose management strategy on Islay. Every time I read 'strategies' like this I can only think, when will the human population going to be culled? 

The three aims of the strategy:
- Meet the UK's nature conservation obligations for geese, within the context of wider biodiversity objectives. (That's a great box ticking line)
- Minimise economic losses experienced by farmers and crofters as a result of the presence of geese. (i.e. reducing crop damage by 25-30% by lethally controlling Greenland Barnacle Geese)
- Maximise the value for money of public expenditure. (Money/Greed)

To achieve these aims there are a further list of points, but my favourite line being:
'Maintain a viable population of barnacle geese at a level which meets our conservation obligations.' 

Our conservation obligations, shifting baseline syndrome?

Not far into the report you'll find this gem of a paragraph. 
'The average Greenland barnacle goose population wintering on Islay has risen from c.3,000 in 1952 to a peak of just under 50,000 in 2005-2006 (Figure 1) (Mitchell & Hall, 2013). That long term increase since the 1950s was due to a combination of breeding success, reduction in hunting following legal protection and changes in agricultural management providing good quality winter feeding. However, the numbers have fluctuated over recent years. There was no significant growth in the Islay population between the last two population censuses in 2008 and 2013 and there was a drop of just under 6,000 geese since winter 2012/13. Analysis by WWT suggests that the population trend has have levelled off (Hilton et al. 2014)'

So it seems that Scottish Natural Heritage would prefer to return to a time when numbers were reduced by hunting. On further reading it appears they are thinking about it:

'Possibilities for sporting tourism may be considered during the period of the strategy.')
But its all ok, they've added a silver lining, they're investing in the Greenland White Fronted Geese, aiming to increase the population, minimise disturbance, improve their traditional feeding areas, and provide diversionary feeding.

I understand that in this day and age that its becoming increasingly difficult to live, in terms of money, but the constant bright idea of culling species is ridiculous. 

It's as much their home as it is ours.

You can read the article and find links to the report here:


  1. Cheers for the article Cain. (Yeah agreed re: human culling, when I see attitudes like that, lol!).

  2. What a load of utter bollox. I dispair.....

  3. One line you've written sums it all up.....IT'S AS MUCH THEIR HOME AS OURS.
    It seems most of humanity isn't happy unless it's killing something.

  4. I've just finished reading the Poyser 'The Barnacle Goose'. It does of course highlight the success of conservation efforts with this species, although focus is upon the Svalbard and Baltic populations. It also highlights the arrangements with those involved in agriculture, although of course those folk do get government subsidies. I have to confess that as I finished the last paragraph I wondered how long it would be before there were calls expressing concerns about growing numbers of geese. Oh well, I can't say I'm shocked. It seems to me that as soon as soon as any success is reached in conservation and numbers of a species grows there are cry's of too many. It could be argued I suppose that this is what conservation is all about i.e. conserve a viable number.