A project to manage resident geese populations in Orkney is set to enter its final year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has confirmed.
The Orkney greylag goose pilot allows local people to control the resident population by controlled shooting in August and September before migratory birds arrive in October.
This helps keep the population down to reduce impact on farming while maintaining the species’ conservation interest.
Geese taken as part of the pilot project will continue to be recorded and numbers monitored in the summer.
The estimated population in 2001 was 1,500 birds which peaked at 22,911 in August 2014. The goose count in August 2015 showed a small reduction in the population with 21,354 birds recorded.
Gail Churchill, SNH’s Orkney operations manager, said: “We undertook this initiative in response to the concerns of local farmers and land managers. Over the last four years the project has managed to prevent the expansion of the population of resident greylag geese in Orkney which without the project shooting could be in the region of 50,000 birds.
“Last year around 5,800 resident greylag geese were shot on Orkney and the target for this year is 7,000. The work will be undertaken by experienced local shooters following established best practice methods, and overseen by Scotland’s Rural College staff.”
He added: “This is the final year of the pilot project and at the end of this season the Local Goose Management Group will be reviewing it and identifying ways in which the population of greylag geese can continue to be managed sustainably.”