Greylag geese were a relatively rare sight in Orkney as recently as the 1980s.
But numbers have soared in recent years with a resident population of about 30,000 joined by about 40,000 migratory birds in the winter. The combined total of those two groups means that there can be three geese for every one human on the islands.
In 2012, permission was given for an annual cull because the birds were eating farmers’ crops to an alarming extent, but the carcasses were simply sent to landfill. It’s hard to see this as anything other than a shocking waste. The killing of wild animals for food – if it is done in a sustainable way – is something that should be acceptable to anyone who is not a vegetarian or vegan on ethical grounds.
So news that the birds’ meat can now be legally sold and the drawing up of a number of recipes, such as Orkney greylag goose breasts in marmalade glaze, goose stew and goose paella, is to be welcomed.
If we humans are to live on this planet in a truly sustainable way, as it is patently obvious that we must, all forms of waste should be abhorred.