Initial steps have been taken which could lead to a controlled cull of geese being introduced to help control numbers of the birds feeding off crofts and farms.
The isles’ agricultural community is planning to apply for an adaptive management scheme similar to three-year project being piloted in Orkney.
The proposal follows a meeting yesterday between local farming and conservation representatives with isles MSP Tavish Scott.
However the talks over the scheme are at an early stage. An application has still to be formally submitted to the department of agriculture in Charlotte House.
Crofters hope to move a step closer at a follow-up get-together on 20th May. The controlled cull could be introduced next year. In the short term, licences are available which will enable producers to shoot the birds.
Yesterday’s meeting follows concerns geese numbers in Shetland are rapidly growing out of control, and destroying crops and grasslands.
South Mainland farmer Jim Budge said the meeting, attended by SNH and the RSPB, as well as NFU and SIC representatives, had gone very well. He added he was optimistic the scheme would become a reality.
“There’s general recognition now that geese are becoming a major problem because so many are staying and breeding here.
“For every pair that nests there’s a potential of another three young ones coming. So it soon mounts up. We’re looking to see if we can set up a goose management scheme similar to what they have in Orkney.
“With the recognition that geese are a problem we’ll certainly get a scheme in place. It can’t come in until about 2014.
“What I would have liked to have seen is a derogation for the whole of Shetland, just to allow folk to shoot geese out-with the closed season. They seemed to think it would be simpler to go down this licensed route which is established. I can understand that, but it does mean there’s more paperwork. But we certainly got a very sympathetic ear, especially from SNH.
“We’re having another meeting … to try to make sure we get something in place for this next season.”