Jean has welcomed the decision of Scottish Natural Heritage to pilot licenses for crofters and other farmers on the Uists and Benbecula to sell the meat of greylag geese.
The measure will provide much-needed income for local communities, ultimately making goose management self-funding, as well as reducing the needless waste of discarded carcasses.
The licenses will run until March 2015, and build upon a similar pilot in Orkney which began last August and runs until July this year.
“This is great news for the Western Isles. Control of geese is vital to crofting and other farming in the islands, but until now most of the birds have simply had to be thrown away. This has also meant that goose control has cost crofters time or money.
“Under this pilot, we’ll see the end of the shameful waste of high-quality meat, and an income stream that will make goose control self-financing and add to the diversity of croft products.
“This is also a boost for Scotland’s largest community buy-out, as Stòras Uibhist, the community company that owns most of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay on behalf of the residents, will be the license-holder for those islands.”
Jean had previously pressed the Scottish Government on the issue, asking Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse in a Parliamentary Question whether he had discussed the impact of the geese on farming, and the possibility of introducing a mechanism for their sale:
Question S4O-02193: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 22/05/2013
To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with Scottish Natural Heritage regarding the impact of greylag geese on agricultural land and the possibility of introducing a mechanism for the sale of greylag geese.
Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (30/05/2013):
My officials have had extensive discussions with Scottish Natural Heritage and with stakeholders represented on the National Goose Management Review Group regarding the impact of greylag geese on agricultural land and possible solutions to limiting their impact on certain Scottish islands, including the trialling of adaptive management techniques.
At the request of farmers on Orkney, Scottish Natural Heritage is working on the development of a scheme to permit the limited sale of wild goose carcases under licence, provided an effective and proportionate system of identification and control can be established.
We are required to consult with the European Commission before putting any such scheme into practice and we intend to start those consultations very shortly.