National Goose Forum minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Hugh Dignon, SG (Chair)  
  • Sam Turner, SG
  • Rae McKenzie, NS
  • Jessica Shaw, NS
  • Tracey Johnston, NatureScot
  • Andrew Connon, NFUS
  • Bill Dundas, RPID
  • Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland
  • Steve Campbell, SASA
  • Nils Bunnefeld, Stirling University
  • David Muir, Uist LGMG
  • Sally Reynolds, Lewis and Harris LGMG
  • Brian Minshull, BGAG
  • Penny Middleton, NFUS
  • Gary Clewley, BTO
  • Richard Hearn, WWT
  • Alastair Martin, Solway LGMG
  • Paul Walton, RSPB


  • Morag Milne, NS (secretariat)
  • Donald Fraser, NS
  • Alastair Watson, Orkney LGMG


Items and actions

Hugh Dignon welcomed everyone to the meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting (9 August 2022) were agreed.

Action points from previous meetings are listed at action points raised at previous meetings.

Goose policy review (verbal update from Bill Dundas/Nils Bunnefeld)

The deadline for submission of the questionnaire was 17 October 2022.

Bill shared his screen to show the questionnaire results and summarised the responses from 257 participants.

Nils then shared his screen and gave a short presentation of the analysis. In conclusion:
Only half of people have answered all questions, which limits statistical analysis

Engagement and effective communication was seen to be successful by many people.

Small effect of people inside scheme seeing damage reduction successful and people outside scheme seeing species protection as positive.

All in all a wide spread and complex set of responses opening up opportunities of continuing engagement from all involved.

There was then an opportunity for members to ask questions.

David Muir asked what the next steps are. Rae, Morag, Bill, Gillian to work through the data and pull out key themes and the plan is to come back out to engage with the local groups in Late November/early December with the information.

Colin Shedden asked if a sector/group could be identified from the questionnaire results. Bill agreed that it could.

Brian Minshull asked how the questionnaires were distributed.  Bill informed the group that the questionnaire was shared amongst, National Goose Forum (NGF), local goose groups met and discussed and the link was sent to all NatureScot (NS) management agreement owner/occupiers, communication through NS, Scottish Government social media, National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) and Crofters commission.

Penny Middleton pointed out that people should not be disheartened by the lack of response to some questions.

Paul Walton thanked all for the analysis and informed the group that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) had sent a separate document with their comments as the issue of geese and agriculture is a difficult one but agreed that this was an interesting and worthwhile exercise.

Avian flu incidence (verbal update from Rae McKenzie)

There continues to be significant outbreaks within poultry farms, mostly in England.

An Avian Influenza Task Force has been set up and is led by NatureScot. As noted in the previous meeting, the aim is to develop a response plan to manage the outbreaks amongst wild birds.

NatureScot have set up a network of people to report any early signs of outbreaks. This is a loose framework of volunteers and individual nature reserve staff in key areas who report any dead birds to us and we can organise testing for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Stress that for the wider public, the reporting route is still through Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) helpline.

NatureScot are focussed on what might happen with returning migratory species, especially geese.

So far, no reports of any large outbreaks amongst goose populations, although we are keeping an eye on reports of pink-feet in the Moray Firth area.

Rae reported that risk assessments were being done, there would be better plans in place with a consistent approach across the country.

Sam noted that a legislative sub-group are to look into the framework, however there was nothing to update yet.

Paul Walton asked if there had been any communication from Greenland and Iceland. Rae reported that there was nothing from Greenland but there were two hundred birds lost in the Barnacle Goose (BA) population from Iceland.  Paul noted that the intensity hasn’t gone down, overall numbers are high but are widespread.

Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee Meeting (verbal update from Rae McKenzie)

Morag and Rae were invited to the (RAINE) committee meeting last week to give evidence on greylag geese in response to the petition raised by Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) on management of geese in the Western Isles. They gave the committee and update on the current goose policy review. They also provided an update on the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) situation in geese.

On greylags specifically, they outlined the work that has been done to date, much of which is contained within the written report Morag has circulated to NGF members.

Rae noted that it was a useful and positive discussion but no decisions had been made on future management or support.
David Muir asked about present and future funding. Rae reported that there have been no decisions on future funding and that public funding is likely to be constrained in future years. 

Hugh supported this position but made it clear that the Minister remains committed to supporting farmers and crofters affected by geese.

Icelandic Greylag Status (verbal update from Rae McKenzie)

At the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) Meeting of the Parties in October, the proposal to change the listing of Icelandic greylag was agreed and the population have been given an A* status.

This means that they have a greater level of protection but range states can develop a flyway management plan which can include hunting.

NatureScot and Scottish Government met with AEWA and Iceland last week to discuss the work that now needs to be undertaken and agreed that we wish to develop a management plan to allow continued hunting at a sustainable level.

Until that plan is completed, the UK Government plan to apply for a reservation on the listing, which means that we can continue current management.

Resident greylag – an update on adaptive management that has taken place since the demonstration pilots closed in 2017.

(Paper for information only.)

Any Other Current Business  and Date of Next Meeting 

Goose Review and Next Steps

Penny suggested that more clarity was needed going forward and for individuals/organisations to have an opportunity to help in discussions.

Bill reported that the intention is to gather the thoughts of the various parties to pull out the key findings and engage to help inform what the policy should look like and come back with a draft framework for going forward. Timescale by Spring 2023.

Date of next meeting is 14 February 2023.

Action points raised at previous meetings

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 4 August 2022

Outstanding. Pending publication of report.

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 4 August 2022

Outstanding. The report has not been published. Rae has asked if she can circulate a draft ahead of the report’s publication.

Back to top