WILD GEESE is to be sold in shops in the Outer Hebrides for the first time this winter following the success of a pilot scheme on Orkney.
The greylag goose has been branded the “single biggest threat” to island crofting life in Scotland by the Scottish Crofters Federation which claims that some cereal and grass harvests are being “completely destroyed” by the migrating birds.
The sale of wild goose meat is normally prohibited in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
But, in a bid to help control numbers, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has announced that they are to pilot the sale of geese on a trial basis in Uist later this year.
Angus MacNeill, the Western Isles SNP MP who has been campaigning for the introduction of the trial scheme, welcomed the announcement.
He said the problem of geese numbers in the Western Isles had escalated out of control over the past few years, and had been a cause of real concern for crofters and others whose crops have been badly damaged by the geese.
Mr MacNeil said: “I welcome this move and have been campaigning for a number of years now to get these rules relaxed. Many crofters and those that run community play areas and football parks have been in touch with me after seeing geese make such a mess of their land and also the mess they leave behind on football parks throughout the islands.
“We also need to look at other measures to try and keep the geese numbers down, as the problem has escalated out of control over the past number of years.”
Susan Davies, the Director of Policy and Advice at SNH, has told Mr MacNeill: “The licensed sale of greylag geese carcases in Orkney appears to be progressing well, with feedback from farmers and the wider community being very positive.
“When we developed the mechanisms to licence the sale of carcases, we detailed how the proposed sale would operate in both Orkney and the Uists. This approach was considered acceptable by the European Commission and approved by the Scottish Government. We are currently in the process of fine tuning the approach that we will need for the Uists to take account of the slightly different supply chain that will operate there. This will ensure that licences are tailored to local circumstances and that we build in appropriate monitoring to inform the sale in future years and ensure that the control, and sale of geese, is managed sustainably.“
She adds: “We are confident that these detailed discussions will be concluded in time to allow the sale to be part of this year’s pilot activities and will enable geese to be on the menu in the Uists this winter.”