Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has sought assurances from Ministers about future plans to manage geese numbers in Orkney.
Last month, Mr McArthur wrote to the Scottish Government calling for an “assurance that the Scottish Government remains committed to supporting the objectives which the adaptive management pilot sought to achieve.”
The Orkney greylag goose adaptive management programme, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), was introduced in 2011 with the aim of enabling local people to control the resident greylag geese population. It is now its final year.
In response to Orkney’s MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham MSP confirmed that “from the outset SNH has anticipated that all the pilots would come to an end in 2017.” The Minister added: “SNH will therefore consider future management options….and depending on budget availability, try to identify approaches that may assist..”
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said:
“This pilot has allowed steps to be taken to control the resident greylag geese population in Orkney. This saw a near 15-fold increase between 2001 and 2014, with serious knock-on impacts for crops and arable land, as well as other local bird species and indeed conservation efforts in relation to the geese themselves.
“While welcome, it seems clear that this initiative has not yet succeeded in bringing down the number of greylag geese to sustainable levels, even if it has at least been successful in preventing numbers from rising. That is why we need confirmation that Ministers remain committed to the objectives that saw the pilot scheme launched in the first place.
“Moving forward, further assessment of the results to date will be needed. There are also improvements that can be made to the scheme to make it more effective. However, it is important that the Scottish Government stays the course so that we can reach a position, as has happened in the Western Isles, where the greylag geese population in Orkney is sustainable.”