National Goose Forum minutes: April 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the National Goose Forum on 20 April 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Hugh Dignon, SG; (Chair)
  • Donald Fraser, NS
  • Rae McKenzie, NS
  • Morag Milne, NS (secretariat)
  • Andrew Connon, NFUS
  • Bill Dundas, RPID
  • Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland
  • Sarah Cowie, NFUS
  • Paul Walton, RSPB Scotland
  • Steve Campbell, SASA
  • Nils Bunnefeld, Stirling University
  • Karen Ramoo, SLE
  • Alastair Watson, Orkney LGMG
  • David Muir, Uist LGMG
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Robert Epps, Islay LGMG
  • Peter Isacsson, Tiree LGMG
  • Alastair Martin, Solway LGMG
  • Brian Minshull; BGAG


  • Chris Wernham, BTO
  • Penny Middleton, NFUS
  • Duncan MacAlister, Kintyre LGMG
  • James Daniel, Shetland LGMG
  • Donald McCreath, Strathbeg LGMG

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Hugh Dignon welcomed everyone to the meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting (5 August 2021) were approved.

All matters arising were addressed through the agenda items. Action points from previous meetings are listed at Appendix 1.

Goose policy review (verbal update from Rae McKenzie)

The terms of reference for this quinquennial review are subject to Ministerial approval. The terms have not yet been agreed with the Minister. 

To inform the review, stakeholders will be consulted for their views on current and future goose policy. The aim is to report to Ministers in the autumn of 2022. Other policy drivers, such as the climate and biodiversity emergencies, will be considered as part of the review.

It was noted that farmers are seeking a conclusion as soon as possible to inform their future cropping plans.

Nils suggested the consultation include not only the stakeholders involved in policy delivery but also seeks views from local communities – see farmer attitude tracking in England for an approach used in England.

Avian flu incidence (verbal update from Rae McKenzie)

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been recorded in Scotland in various wild bird species this winter. The biggest die-off occurred in Svalbard barnacle geese on the Solway, affecting possibly 30% to 40% of the population. HPAI also occurred in Greenland barnacle geese but affected fewer birds; in Ireland in January 2022 (seven hundred to nine hundred birds), and on Islay in February 2022 (c.two hundred birds but many sick birds predated by white-tailed eagles). In response, NatureScot took a precautionary approach in early February, suspending its derogation shooting of barnacle geese on Islay and its licensed shooting on Uist. 

The full impact of HPAI will not be known until next autumn’s counts.

The discussion referred to this United Nations report about HPAI in wild birds in the UK and Israel.

All were encouraged to report any found dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline for testing (03459 33 55 77).

Control of greylag geese – discussions with Minister (Verbal update from David Muir)

In August 2021, NatureScot withdrew its funding for resident greylag control after the pilot demonstration project came to an end. In February 2022, Mari MacAllan, MSP offered fifty thousand pounds Scottish Government funding for resident greylag control to reduce agricultural damage for a two-year period.

Local Goose Management Groups (LGMGs) do not consider this sum sufficient to contain the Western Isles populations nor to secure the biodiversity or the soil health or other benefits that crofting gives. The Western Isles LGMGs want permanent funding for resident greylag control, more money and more recognition for the benefits that crofting delivers.

David proposed NatureScot’s remit to protect/restore/value nature should be expanded to include food security so it can continue to support resident greylag control.

The national goose policy review offers an opportunity for LGMGs to express their views and to influence the future direction of goose policy. All LGMGs are encouraged to engage with the policy review.

Patrick asked about the costs of corralling relative to other control methods.

(AP)1: Morag to summarise the costs for different methods for controlling resident greylag geese to date.

It was reported that farmers on Orkney and crofters on the Western Isles are going out of business because of greylag goose impacts on farming.

Pinkfoot and greylag impacts on Orkney (verbal update from Al Watson)

Al reported more pink-footed geese are now staying on Orkney, arriving earlier and staying longer before migrating. They are having significant impacts on agriculture – particularly on spring bite. 

Al applied for a NatureScot licence for lethal control this spring, and after three weeks received a licence to shoot ten birds.

Al suggested putting pink-footed geese onto General Licence GL02. He thought existing goose guides would be willing to come up in February/March/April to control greylag if there were no bag limits and they could use decoys.

This year, there is a review of goose policy, NatureScot is reviewing its licences and it will also undertake an annual review of its General Licences. All of these reviews present an opportunity for LGMGs to put forward ideas for improve current licensing arrangements.

(AP)2: With respect to pink-foot numbers in Orkney and in the rest of Scotland, NatureScot ornithologists will provide information about recent trends using international goose counts (held every three years in February), over the last nine years.

Rich noted pink-foot numbers have increased in recent decades and that, as a migratory species, we have obligations not to shoot in the spring immediately prior to migration. 

NatureScot has appointed more staff to its licensing team recently, and hopes that future applications can be turned around more quickly.

Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme (written update from Simon Cohen)

There were no comments on the following update which was submitted on 20 April 2022.

‘The tendering period for the new Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme (GSMP) contract closed on 18 March. After the evaluation of the bids the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and NatureScot (NS) are in pre-award negotiations with the British Trust for Ornithologists (BTO) over the future of GSMP. An initial meeting was held on 1 April and the next negotiation meeting is on April 27. It is hoped a final decision on how GSMP will be taken forward will be made soon after that meeting. The final steering group meeting with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) as the organising partner is on 25 April.’

Bean Goose Action Group (BGAG) – recent changes to BGAG representation (Verbal update from Brian Minshull)

The Bean Goose Action Group has changed its name to the Bean Goose Advisory Group (BGAG). The Group has a new Chair in Rick Goater. NatureScot continues to send a member of staff to attend BGAG meetings (in an advisory capacity). NatureScot continues to support the BGAG with a contribution of five hundred pounds towards monitoring the Slamannan bean goose population. 

The BGAG is feeling that its efforts to study the Slamannan bean goose population are under-valued and under supported.

(AP)3: Morag will attend the next meeting BGAG meeting on 16 June 2022.

Publication of National Goose Forum (NGF) minutes

(Verbal update from Hugh Dignon)

Scottish Government (SG) staff have the latest versions of all the NGF minutes and they are about to publish them on the SG web pages.


African Eurasion Waterbird Agreement (AEWA): the Greenland barnacle goose population model was accepted at the last AEWA international working group (IWG) meeting. NatureScot has been working with Norwegian counterparts to develop an impact model and it will report on that model to the next IWG meeting in June in Helsinki

(AP)4: Morag will canvass for dates in August 2022 for the next meeting.

Morag Milne 29 April 2022, revised 10 August 2022

Appendix 1 action points raised at previous meetings

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Chairs for LGMG’s to discuss recent letter about support for greylag management (appended to minute of 5 August 2021) with LGMGs and to send their comments to Morag.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting


Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

All to discuss future support for goose management with LGMGs/own organisations and to submit suggestions to Morag for collation and discussion at the next NGF meeting.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Discharged. None submitted.

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Morag and Rae to arrange presentations to the NGF potentially from the Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), NatureScot and others to provide context for further discussions about where potential opportunities lie including future Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS), Less Favoured Area Support (LFASS), Piloting an Outcome Based Support (POBAS) and other approaches.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Outstanding. Pending clarity of future direction for agri-environment policy.

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Morag will circulate a link to Birdstrike’s report about the greylag corralling trial when NatureScot publish it.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Outstanding. Pending publication of report.

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Morag to establish a subgroup/invite volunteers to develop approaches to greylag management - subject to the Chair’s approval.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Superceded by Ministerial intervention in Feb 2022 to offer two years’ SG funding for Resident Greylag (RGL) control.

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Morag to circulate a note about how to spot these marked Icelandic greylag birds and where to report sightings.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Discharged. 21 April 2022 – circulated a note about how to spot these birds. They should be reported to This is also printed on the collars if anyone retrieves one from a dead bird.

Actions from 2 March 2021 meeting

David Muir asked if we had published our (early 2019) NatureScot economic appraisal of wildlife management. Rae offered to find out.

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Outstanding: Rae will circulate a link to the publication when it is published.

Actions from 2 March 2021 meeting

Paul Walton asked if we had views on the petition to the Iceland parliament extend hunting in the whooper breeding season. A decision was due 1 April 2021. Here’s a link to RSPB’s views

Update at 21 April 2022 meeting

Discharged: NatureScot did not submit a response to this petition – it was unaware of the proposal. NatureScot does not have a formal position.

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