2011 fight against ravaging geese gears up

Greylag geese
Greylag geese

The Uist Goose Management Scheme has commenced for 2011.

Funded and coordinated by the Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ project IT is now in itS second year and looks to build on the successes of its first season.

Greylag geese can cause significant damage to arable crops leading to losses both for crofters and biodiversity.

The crop cycle is the backbone of the traditional agricultural system on Uists and supports many jobs as a significant part of the local economy.

Rotational use of the machairs to grow crops has led to a mosaic of internationally important habitats which support species such as corncrake, lapwing and many flowering plants. In addition the local cattle economy is reliant on the fodder crops produced to feed the animals in winter.

The Uist Greylag Goose scheme aims to minimise agricultural damage by using carefully timed and coordinated scaring activities.

“To ensure another successful year we need more local support than ever,” said Rory MacGillivray, Uist Goose coordinator for Machair Life+.

Other local Goose Management schemes around Scotland are facing budget cuts while some are being wound up all together, but the Uist scheme is secure until March 2014.

Mr MacGillivray added: “If crofters can engage and help make the scheme work more efficiently for a second year, there will be a strong argument for continued goose funding on the Uists into the future.”

“We want to build on the success of last year when crop damage from geese was minimal, which is a significant advance on recent years.”“There are basic things crofters can do which will deter geese that may be in the area of crop now. A key message is mix and change what you do. A scarecrow will work for a short time, but move it every few days and walk towards geese when you see them and flush them off.”