Many of us are thrilled to watch the annual returning spectacle of the migrating Barnacle Geese on Islay. Last week thousands of them arrived on the island and a recent count learned that there are approximately 37,000 thousands Geese on the island as we speak, and there number will be growing in the weeks ahead. The success of the growing Barnacle Goose population is good news for the RSPB, SNH and other conservational groups, they have done a great job. However, not everyone on Islay is pleased when the ever-growing population of Geese arrive in the Autumn. They feed on grass and continue to do so well into early spring before they return to Greenland, grazing on the farmer's fields until almost nothing is left for sheep and cattle to feed on in spring. Of course there is compensation for the farmer's but it's not enough. That's why a delegation of farmers from Islay, accompanied by NFU Scotland (National Farmers' Union of Scotland) Vice President Rob Livesey and George Lyon MEP, met with senior Brussels officials today to discuss the growing threat that the Barnacle goose population poses to the viability of agriculture on the island. A quote from the press release:
Chairman of Islay's NFUS branch, Robert Epps said: "We've had an informative discussion with officials from the commission about how to ensure both the viability of farming on the island and a healthy goose population. We hope this can contribute positively to the future sustainability of farming, to run alongside a population of the internationally protected Greenland Barnacle goose.
George Lyon MEP added: "There was a clear message that the task of finding a solution lies with the Scottish Government. It must either justify control measures to limit the population of Barnacle geese or, should it be unable to do so, continue to compensate farmers for losses incurred due to the winter numbers of geese."