MP takes part in cull of gannet chicks

AN ISLAND MP is taking part in an annual cull of young seabirds - a move that has infuriated animal welfare groups who want the tradition banned.

Angus MacNeil, who represents the Western Isles, was due to travel last night to the island of Sulasgeir with ten men from Ness in Lewis for the traditional harvest of gugas, or young gannets.

Earlier this month the Scottish SPCA renewed a call for the event to be outlawed. The charity wrote to the Scottish Government saying that each August 2,000 gannet chicks are beaten to death in order to be eaten, although the hunters insist the birds are killed humanely.

Scottish Natural Heritage, which has taken over responsibility for licensing the hunt, said it will discuss the issue during a wider review of its licensing functions over the next year.

Mr MacNeil said the tradition had been the hallmark of the area of Ness for generations and perhaps stemmed from the Viking era.

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