Around 60% of the global population of Greenland Barnacle Geese winter on Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. The high concentration of geese may cause damage to agricultural grasslands, which has led to conflict with local farmers and, as a result, the island has a long history of goose management aimed at reducing the impact of goose grazing on agricultural yields. A variety of management techniques have been used over the years, but the current scheme has faced criticism because it has, for the first time, introduced active culling of Barnacle Geese. Steve Percival and Eric Bignal ask whether, three years into its implementation, the current Islay goose-management scheme is meeting its objectives, and suggest a new approach for managing the impacts of goose grazing on grasslands.
Each autumn, Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, plays host to one of Britain’s most impressive wildlife spectacles, as tens of thousands of Arctic-breeding geese arrive to spend the winter feeding on the island’s grasslands and saltmarshes.