National Goose Forum minutes: August 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the National Goose Forum on 5 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Rae McKenzie, NS (Chair)
  • Morag Milne, NS (secretariat)
  • Leia Fitzgerald, SG
  • Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland
  • Penny Middelton, NFUS
  • Paul Walton, RSPB Scotland
  • Steve Campbell, SASA
  • Karen Ramoo, SLE
  • Nils Bunnefeld, Stirling University
  • Richard Hearn, WWT
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Alan Younie, RPID
  • Alastair Watson, Orkney LGMG
  • Bill Dundas, RPID
  • Alan Younie, RPID
  • Andrew Connan, RPID
  • David Muir, Uist LGMG
  • Robert Epps, Islay LGMG
  • Peter Isacsson, Tiree LGMG
  • Alastair Martin, Solway LGMG
  • Duncan MacAlister, Kintyre LGMG


  • Hugh Dignon, SG
  • Brian Minshull, BGAG
  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot
  • Andy Douse, NS
  • James Daniel, Shetland LGMG
  • Chris Wernham
  • Gary Clewley, BTO
  • Sally Reynolds, Lewis and Harris LGMG
  • Donald McCreath, Strathbeg LGMG

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions – Rae McKenzie

Minutes from 2 March 2021 meeting and matters arising

Amendments were suggested for items 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 in the 2 March 2021 minutes. They will be re-circulated for confirmation. Rae noted that the report about wildlife management conflicts referred to in item 7 has not been published and she will advise the Forum when it has been published.

Report from the international African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) European Goose Management Platform (EGMP) meeting in June 2021 – Paper 1 – Rae McKenzie

Rae McKenzie introduced Paper 1 and noted that the population model for the Greenland population of barnacle geese has AEWEA approval. We will use it to help develop a model for the Svalbard barnacle population.

Future support for goose management:

The meeting was asked which mechanisms members would like to use to support future goose management and in what combinations? For example, Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), Piloting an Outcomes Based Approach (POBAS), Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS’) successor, individual schemes.

Discussion on resident greylag management followed and included the following comments:
Local Goose Management Groups (LGMGs) are unhappy about the content of a letter from NatureScot of 28 July 2021 re arrangements for supporting LGMGs to control the impacts of resident greylag geese in 2021 (see Annex 1). It was suggested:

  • although it’s been clear from annual letters to LGMGs that NatureScot did not intend to fund adaptive management long-term, members were surprised and dismayed about the decision to end funding for routine resident greylag control in 2021
  • resident greylag numbers are likely to have increased during 2020/21 because the level of sport shooting will have declined due to Covid-19 restrictions
  • cco-ordination is needed – without it resident greylag population management (culls) will not happen
  • continued financial support is needed – without it adaptive management will not happen
  • greylag geese impact other biodiversity interests such as corncrake and machair management, Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) condition, heather and bog restoration
  • goose policy should preserve both geese and agriculture
  • crofters will start to shoot more greylag and unco-ordinated shooting could present additional risks to protected species such as Greenland white-fronted geese
  • work is needed to consider the link between the greylag population and the climate emergency
  • if long term support is to be sought through agri-environment measures work should have started several years ago
  • we could look to future agri-environment mechanisms to support goose management (including greylag management) to safeguard crofting and support agriculture
  • the meeting was asked why NatureScot had not consulted with LGMGs prior to writing to them? As previously discussed at National Goose Forum (NGF) and detailed in letters to LGMGs over the last few years, other goose species have a higher conservation priority than the greylag goose (reflecting the Scottish Government’s (SG’s) national goose policy and commitment to focus limited resources on species of highest conservation concern). Therefore, NatureScot’s role has shifted to an advisory role
  • NatureScot’s current focus is to provide crofters, farmers and land managers with tools and techniques to control resident greylag goose goose impacts as routine, in parallel with their other wildlife management work
  • the meeting noted LGMGs were unhappy they had not been consulted before NatureScot wrote to them

Action point (AP): Chairs for LGMGs to discuss recent letter (appended) with LGMGs and to send their comments to Morag.

Discussion about the development of future support for geese (all species) using agri-environment measures followed and it was suggested:

  • LFAS, POBAS, AECS’ successor and individual schemes are all potentially useful mechanisms
  • with AECS it’s difficult for everyone to get in because its competitive
  • people want fairness which current [agri-environment] schemes are not and they also want tools to get rid of the geese
  • people want to include goose management into AECS; to be relieved of NatureScot’s budget constraints, to put geese on a par with other species and habitats and, in addition, they want separate support for activities such as the provision of marksmen and ammunition on Islay

AP: 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.

  • can NatureScot help to identify where the opportunities lie by providing presentations on, for example, POBAS and natural capital schemes to provide context?

AP: Morag and Rae to arrange presentations to the NGF potentially from Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), NatureScot and others to provide context for further discussions about where potential opportunities lie including future AECS, (LFASS), POBAS and other approaches.

  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is willing to provide a presentation about lessons that were learned from Machair LIFE project
  • is NatureScot’s forthcoming publication on economic appraisal helpful?
  • it may be useful to establish a NGF subgroup to discuss future support for goose management

AP: Morag to establish a subgroup/invite volunteers - subject to the Chair’s approval.

Greylag geese – corralling update – Alastair Watson

During the summer the Orkney LGMG trialled corralling as an aid to culling resident greylag geese as a humane alternative to shooting. Advice and training was provided by ‘Birdstrike’. Moult birds were shepherded from lochs (using kayaks) into an onshore corral where they were dispatched by vets using lethal injection. The exercise was reasonably successful with a total of 760 birds taken over 3 mornings/capture events. The cost was high at c.£25/goose because it included provision of advice and training from Birdstrike. There was interest in a cost comparison with other methods.

Questions were also asked about how repeatable the approach would be. Where birds escaped capture they are expected to be less easy to shepherd in future. Rotation to other sites was suggested as a means to address this adaptation.

It was noted that capture was less successful at a site where shooting pressure had been high immediately prior to the corralling event.

The Orkney LGMG will consider the lessons learned at their next meeting.

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

Greylag geese – an update on their AEWA status – Morag Milne

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will submit a proposal to AEWA to classify the Icelandic greylag population that winters in the UK as ‘A*’ status instead of the ‘A’ status the AEWA Technical Committee propose. This would enable sustainable hunting under an AEWA approved single species management plan.

These proposals will be discussed at the AEWA Meeting of the Parties on 6 October 2021. NatureScot thanked LGMGs for their input to the submission.

We anticipate Iceland will support the A* proposal.

NatureScot has begun to work with Iceland to capture data needed to inform a species management plan for the Icelandic greylag goose. NatureScot has purchased satellite tags and leg rings which are being attached to birds in Iceland this summer. These will help us to better understand the birds’ migration patterns.

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

AEWA’s interpretation of the Icelandic greylag count data was questioned (the data is available on the WWT webpages). It was suggested numbers rise and fall in a cyclical pattern. If they were to rise again, we could expect the AEWA Technical Committee to propose a further change the birds’ status – which they review at 3-yearly intervals.

It was suggested that a subgroup be formed to discuss the future management of resident greylag geese.

It was suggested that we need a strategy for managing both resident and Icelandic greylag geese together.

AP: Morag to establish a NGF subgroup/invite volunteers to discuss the future control of resident greylag geese - subject to the Chair’s approval.

Topics for future meetings and increasing stakeholder involvement

The topic for the next meeting will be the future support mechanisms for goose management. Others are included in the minutes from the March 2021 meeting. Everyone is encouraged to submit additional topics for future meetings.

Any other competent business (AOCB)

There was no other competent business.

Date of next meeting (DONM)

Morag will canvass for dates when arranging presentations on future support mechanisms.

Morag Milne 9 August 2021

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 5 August 2021 meeting

Ongoing: Report will be published and Rae will circulate a link to the publication.

Actions from 2 March 2021 meeting

On developing future support following closure of current goose schemes in Mar 2023: NatureScot will develop an approach to funding over the summer and communicate with the NGF as our thinking develops.

Update at 5 August 2021 meeting

Superceded: No progress to report over the summer. Superceded by discussion at 5 August 2021 meeting.

Actions from 2 March 2021 meeting

David Muir asked if the 2014 ECCLR petition about greylag geese would close.

Update at 5 August 2021 meeting

Discharged: The petition will remain open for the ECCLR’s successor.

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. Read the RSPB’s views.

Update at 5 August 2021 meeting

Ongoing: NatureScot did not submit a response to this petition – it was unaware of the proposal. Morag to ask if NatureScot has a view.

Actions from 25 August 2020 meeting
NatureScot will ask WWT for an update on its research into barnacle geese to answer a question about whether management activity on Islay is displacing barnacle geese to other places.

Update at 5 August 2021 meeting

Discharged: This question is being considered as part of a Phd about barnacle geese on Islay.

Actions from 25 August 2020 meeting

Possible topics for future meetings include a presentation about Apps for LGMGs to help with co-ordination and to share data, and a presentation about the barnacle goose model. We could also ask RSPB for an update on collar/mark/recapture work on Orkney.

Update at 5 August 2021 meeting

Discharged: The meeting opted to focus on future support for goose management at the next meeting.

Annex 1 - letter to LGMGs – Adaptive Management for Greylags – arrangements for Uist, Tiree and Coll, Lewis and Harris and Orkney in financial year 2021/2022

Dear Bill and Alan cc Johanne Fergusson, Colin MacFarlane, Roddy MacMinn, James Plowman, David MacLennan, Hugh Dignon, Leia Fitzgerald

I write to confirm arrangements for supporting LGMGs to control the impacts of resident greylag geese in 2021.

Having demonstrated a way forward for farmers and crofters across Scotland to reduce goose impacts and to safeguard their crops, our role has shifted to an advisory role.

As detailed in our letter of 30 May 2019 (Appendix 1) the management of resident greylag geese will resume a lower priority for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) resource, reflecting the Scottish Government’s (SG’s) national goose policy and commitment to focus on species of highest conservation concern.

Our contribution will be to provide crofters, farmers and land managers with tools and techniques to control resident greylag goose (RGL) goose impacts as routine, in parallel with their other wildlife management work.

Where LGMGs plan to control resident greylag populations in order to reduce their impacts on agricultural crops, we would encourage a sustainable and adaptive approach.

Adaptive Management in 2021/22

NatureScot continues to offer support to LGMGs in the form of advice, assistance with monitoring to support adaptive management and continued partnership working through our contributions to LGMG meetings.

We would also be pleased to continue to work in partnership with LGMGs who wish to deliver sustainable and adaptive management following the adaptive management principles that were agreed for greylag goose population management (Appendix 2).

There is, however, no requirement to deliver adaptive management and farmers and crofters who wish to undertake lethal scaring may continue to do so under General Licence 02/2021.

You are aware, we supported a corralling trial on Orkney this summer, and we will invite the Orkney LGMG to share that experience with other LGMGs at the next National Goose Forum (NGF) meeting on 5 August 2021.

Sale of goose meat

The sale of greylag goose meat from birds legally taken on Orkney, Tiree and Coll and Outer Hebrides is licensed until 31 December 2021 under General Licence 15/2021. This licence allows sale of greylag carcasses where LGMGs are undertaking adaptive management.

AEWA October meeting

As discussed at the last NGF meeting, under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) Treaty proposals to change the legal status of Icelandic greylag geese will be discussed at a Meeting of the Parties in October 2021. These proposals would give Icelandic greylag geese greater legal protection and they may affect future hunting or licensing arrangements that we can put in place in Scotland. We do not anticipate such changes will take effect during the 2021/22 winter hunting season. We will in due course, advise you about the outcome from the October AEWA-Meeting of the Parties, and NatureScot’s response, including any amendments to our General Licences for 2022 and beyond.

Should you wish any advice, or assistance with monitoring to support adaptive management, NatureScot representatives for the Uist, Lewis and Harris, Tiree and Coll and Orkney LGMGs will be pleased to assist.

Kind regards

Morag Milne

28 July 2021

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