Back in November, I reported on the horrific mass killing of Greenland Barnacle Geese on the Scottish island of Islay, under a 10 year government backed scheme, which began in 2014.
Wholesale Slaughter: 17,000+ Birds
But the wholesale slaughter, which is being overseen by Scottish Natural Heritage, could be much worse than I first thought. And it could even threaten the long term survival of the species.
I've been made aware of plans to massacre at least 17,000 more birds on the island.
The figures I've seen suggest that SNH want to keep the population of Barnacle Geese at between 28,000 and 31,000.
In the period 2016/2017, the number of Barnacle Geese on the island was estimated at around 47,000. Given that SNH want to keep numbers at around 30,000, that would suggest that they plan to exterminate 17,000 birds.
The cull has been the subject of much controversy and criticism, though SNH justify the slaughter by claiming that the birds - which are RSPB Amber listed - cause an estimated £1.5 million worth of damage to agriculture on Islay each year, while they overwinter on the island.
SNH: Cull Is A "Small Proportion" Of The Population
Scottish Natural Heritage have stated that they are allowing a 'small proportion' of the population to be killed each year but it seems that they might have given themselves carte blanche to entirely decimate the population under their 'strategy'.... it's haphazard at best.
With Islay supporting 60% of all the Greenland Barnacle Geese on the planet, the SNH 'management' scheme could put the species' survival, at least in the UK, at great risk. The birds had been in steep decline before the population bounced back during the second half of the 20th century. In 1959 there were less than 9,000 individuals recorded in an annual international census . After that low, the Barnacle Goose population did recover but estimates for 2018 suggest that the population is now at its lowest for ten years.
Clearly the population is under stress.
Clearly the cull should be halted.
SNH: Cull "Meets All Of Our International Conservation Obligations"
Migratory birds such as the Barnacle Goose are protected internationally but according to SNH, the cull is permitted.
They state: "the Strategy will maintain Greenland Barnacle Goose numbers at a level which will meet all of our international conservation obligations."
If that is the case then those 'conservation obligations' clearly need to be questioned.....
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