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.