We are working on a project looking at Greylag Geese in Orkney, where increasing numbers of Greylag and other geese are causing increasing conflict with farmers due to crop damage and declines in farm productivity. In 2012 a new pilot culling project was initiated to manage goose populations, aiming to “help ensure the population is managed at a level which reduces the impact on farming activities while retaining the species’ conservation interest” (http://www.snh.gov.uk/news-and-events/press-releases/press-release-details/?id=777). However, a large number of uncertainties exist with the current management strategy. Despite uncertainty, we need answers about why this species became a nuisance, if we could have prevented it or mitigated it earlier through better predictions and understanding of its relationship with the environment, and how we could identify future likely impact sites for conflict based on our new knowledge.
Our project aims to analyse Greylag Goose monitoring data from Orkney to identify, quantify and account for factors that contribute to uncertainty in population estimates, and understand the responses of these geese to recent land use changes. We seek to inform active management which will help Scottish Natural Heritage meet nature conservation obligations by maintaining both a sustainable and stable resident Greylag Goose population over their range.