As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Goose cull deemed unnecessary amid calls for mass shooting to end


New scientific studies have concluded that the shooting of thousands of Barnacle Geese in Scotland is founded on poor science. The killing spree on Islay leaves many of the geese to suffer a slow death, as well as contaminating the environment. As a result, the mass culling has been deemed unnecessary, unsustainable and a waste of money by independent ornithological experts, who have called for the shooting to cease.

Every winter Islay hosts up to 50,000 Barnacle Geese – roughly 60 per cent of the global population – which arrive from Greenland to feed on grasses grown for livestock consumption. They are joined by around a quarter of the world's threatened Greenland White-fronted Geese. Such densities of both species on the island render the populations as internationally important, but despite this Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) arrange an annual shooting and in 2015 laid out a scheme to increase the number of birds killed.

Farmers receive almost £1,000,000 per year to compensate for the damage caused by the geese, but they claim that increasing numbers mean the birds must be culled, and that the hundreds of thousands of pounds provided annually to recompense them must also continue. SNH and farmers argue that both the mass slaughter and compensation is required to avoid agricultural damage and to protect businesses.

Under the 2015 scheme agreed by SNH increasing numbers of Barnacle Geese are being shot; during the last three years more than 8,200 have been killed, including 3,321 alone last winter. Goose experts Dr Steve Percival and Dr Eric Bignal have explained that the scheme is fundamentally flawed and said: "The current scheme is not sustainable, cannot be demonstrated to deliver the best value for money, is raising animal welfare issues and is creating a long-term lead-poisoning risk to birds, other wild animals and livestock."
The killing is sometimes done with a single-pump shotgun, and hundreds of birds are wounded rather than being killed outright, leaving them to die a slow and painful death. SNH admitted that this could happen to 10 per cent of birds shot, but the true proportion is likely to be higher, with Percvial and Bignal highlighting evidence to suggest this. The pair were critical of the frequent use of lead shot, which could pollute the water and soil, leaving other wildlife at risk.

No comments:

Post a Comment