The union’s president, Martin Kennedy, warns the lack of continued financial support for existing management projects will negate all the work done to date and result in a rapid increase in bird numbers.
He said NatureScot had informed local goose management groups (LGMGs) on Uist, Tiree and Coll, Lewis and Harris, and Orkney, that it plans to step back from any financial support for adaptive management schemes for resident greylag geese and instead offer an advisory role to farmers and crofters going forward.
“The grazing pressure exerted by the growing resident populations of Grelay geese on many Scottish islands continues to have a devastating impact on farming and crofting businesses,” said Mr Kennedy.
“Now is not the time for NatureScot to withdraw support.”
He said although the management schemes were always designed to be short-term pilots, a review of the schemes in 2017 identified the need to secure longer-term funding arrangements for management of the birds and development of infrastructure and marketing to allow the sale of goose meat.
“It is our view that until these objectives are met, and the populations of resident Greylags on these islands are reduced to a level where self-help is realistically achievable, it is not appropriate for NatureScot to withdraw financial and practical support and expect the pilots to continue as self-financing,” added Mr Kennedy.
“Failure to do so will see those farmers and crofters involved in the pilots unable to control geese numbers and the populations rapidly increase – negating all the value of the public funding committed to date and the hugely significant commitment from farmers and crofters.”
A spokeswoman from NatureScot said: “As planned, local groups will now use their expertise on the ground to manage greylag geese sustainably.
“We helped Local Goose Management Groups trial methods to control greylag goose populations with this in mind, and NatureScot will be available for advice, licensing and to help with monitoring whenever necessary.”