The Scottish Government is proposing to cull 25% of the Barnacle Goose population on the Hebridean Island of Islay.

 The Scottish authorities are proposing a 25% cull of Barnacle Geese on the Hebridean Island of Islay. To discover more of this story follow the link to the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust web site.

barnacle-goose-svalbard-8-june-2013
Barnacle Goose captured on winter feeding grounds
The recent average has been 36,000 Barnacle geese using the island but the figure used by the local farming community claims a maximum of 45,000 geese which is not the scientific figure but a very rare maximum figure. Lead shot will be used over the fields to cull the birds polluting many flashes as well as leaving birds themselves contaminated by the shot. Wounded birds not picked up are likely to be eaten by the resident eagle and buzzard population with birds arriving from near by islands to enjoy the toxic feast.

Lead shot is only banned over permanent water but many of the fields on Islay have ‘winter’ flashes which dry up in the summer. Last winter species like the rare Greenland White fronted Goose [40% of the world population found on this island!] will be affected not only by the shooting but the intake of lead shot from these pools. The carcasses of the shot birds will be buried and the lead again will accumulate in water bodies and finally be washed into local rivers and lochs.

Islay is an island with many resident Golden Eagles but only 1 pair of White tailed Eagle, but next door is Jura with several pairs of both species. Young birds are always ‘island hopping’ and will be encouraged to feed on lone discarded carcasses where they will ingest up the lead. Many countries around the world have banned the use of lead in shot guns and rifles, especially as it can carry on along the food chain and finally kill the top predators. Species like California Condor and Bald Eagles have been very badly affected not to mention the effect on the human population.

The biggest worry is that the tourist trade will be affected and already the great winter arrival of bird watchers has seen cancellations due to this proposed cull. This can be seen as a boycott similar to the island of Malta which also has a shooting problem. What is worst the British and the Scottish governments are encouraging this cull even though communities will now be effected by any boycott of Islay. Communities were the main reason this Scottish Government gained so many seats at Westminster so why are the SNP going against their word!

Yet again we have a situation where only a limited number of people benefit from this cull – the farmers who are paid already for the damage the geese may cause. Large amounts of fertiliser encourage the geese to use their farms to graze this ‘green’ grass at a time when most farm stock animal are housed inside and don’t need it. What a shame this island can not learn from Mull where wildlife is the big income and is not subsidised at all!

3 comments to The Scottish Government is proposing to cull 25% of the Barnacle Goose population on the Hebridean Island of Islay.

  • nirofo

    They seem to think the answer is to cull everything , it’s just another backdoor attempt to allow them to indulge in their blood lust passion of shooting something. Badgers, foxes, gulls, geese, protected birds of prey, it doesn’t matter what it is so long as they can kill some sort of wildlife and make their feeble excuses for doing it !!!

    • Lapwings

      Huh? My understanding is that it is about protecting the habitat. There have been studies ongoing by the government for 30 plus years. The government has endless reports from sites such as the WWT owned Powhillon farm on the Solway which was a SSSI but is now catalogued as destroyed by Svalbard Barnacle Geese. The destruction caused by vast numbers of barnacle geese is a direct contributing factor to the decline of lapwings on the Solway. Surely rebalancing the interests of our native birds against the invasive non-native migratory species is a good thing!

  • Nigel Farage

    Quite right Mr Lapwings. We can’t allow those non-native geese to just come over here and claim the benefits of our land. That’s British grass for British birds.