Highlands and Islands MSP, and Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, David Stewart, has welcomed the fact that the petition on the control of wild goose numbers has been referred to the Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.
The petition, which was submitted to Parliament by Patrick Krause on behalf of the Scottish Crofting Federation, calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to address the problems created by increasing populations of wild geese in the crofting areas as a matter of priority; reassess its decision to stop funding existing goose management programmes, and assign additional resources to Crop Protection and Adaptive Management programmes to ensure this threat to the future of crofting is averted. The Petitions Committee took evidence from Mr Krause and Roddy MacDonald, a South Uist crofter, last week.
Estimations are that there were around 150 breeding pairs of Greylag geese in the Outer Hebrides during the mid 1980s. Today the Uists alone are home to an estimated 10,000 Greylag geese and the population is growing. The Scottish Crofting Federation advise that the situation is similar in other parts of the crofting areas and state that “Crofter’s complaints about the goose problem are not new but it is now reaching devastating proportions in Tiree, Islay and the Uists, and is fast becoming the same in the rest of the Western Isles, the Northern Isles and parts of the mainland.” The geese are harmful to crofting as they eat grass, destroy crops and soil the land. Graylag geese, despite their vast numbers, are protected by law and the Scottish Government is cutting back on goose control programmes, which is exacerbating the problem for crofters.
David Stewart saidL “I am pleased that the Scottish Crofting Foundation lodged the petition as crofting is one of the major sources of income in many many areas throughout the islands and indeed many parts of the mainland. The geese are causing big problems for the crofting community. Colleagues on the Rural Affairs Committee have discussed the matter and are very aware how important an issue this is in the Western and Northern Isles specifically. I was happy therefore, as Convener of the Petitions Committee, to refer the petition on for further examination.”