SNH: sale of wild greylag goose in Uists will help local businesses and reduce waste

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Wild goose meat will go on sale at licensed outlets in the Uists in a pilot project, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) confirmed today (Monday 10 February).

Numbers of resident greylag geese have expanded rapidly over the years and cause significant damage to crops. This has presented challenges for crofters and farmers in some areas.

Work to control the resident goose population to tackle these issues is being trialled in Scotland on the Uists, Orkney and Tiree. The long-term goal is to minimise agricultural damage while maintaining a viable goose population. Selling geese shot as part of this management will help generate important income for the local community, and help pay for some of the work.

Now the Uist project will introduce the sale of greylag goose meat to encourage the sustainable use of geese under the Uist Resident Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot. Licences will initially be provided to enable the sale for a trial period from February 2014 to March 2015.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change said: “I welcome the progress made by crofters and farmers who have been working with SNH to manage populations of resident greylag geese to prevent serious agricultural damage. These carefully controlled licences will allow the local sale of fresh wild goose meat and so prevent the waste of a resource and provide an economic opportunity for the local community.”

Johanne Ferguson, SNH’s operations manager for the Outer Hebrides and secretary to the local goose group confirmed: “This is an exciting development. It is something the local goose group and wider community have been working towards for a very long time. Sales of geese shot under the pilot should provide the means to make goose management self-funding in future. But now several local businesses are interested in developing goose products while others are looking forward to using and promoting delicious local wild goose on their menus.

“As you would expect we must demonstrate that adequate controls are in place –both for food safety and species’ protection. The local group organised a special course on meat hygiene for marksmen this month to enable them to receive a licence. Although the goose population is still very high, bag limits are reviewed annually through the local group and agreed with national advisors to ensure geese are managed sustainably.”

And Colin Shedden of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) added: “We welcome this introduction of the sale of resident greylag goose meat in support of the Uists Goose Management Pilot and represents wise use of a valuable resource. It builds on experience from the Orkney Pilot where goose meat was offered for sale last year. “We must, however, emphasise that the sale of goose carcasses is only being trialled in Uist and in Orkney, and anyone selling goose carcasses anywhere else in the UK would be committing an offence.”

The sale of resident greylag geese and the Goose Management Pilots are being trialled in Scotland under the auspices of SNH, advised by the National Goose Management Review Group (NGMRG).

And while SNH is responsible for issuing the licences, the council is the competent authority for local delivery of the food hygiene regulations.

In Uist the project has been led by the Local Goose Management Group (LGMG) which includes crofters; shooting interests; landowners; Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF); Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CNES); Scottish Government Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID); and SNH