Halcro Johnston seeks solutions on Orkney geese and stoats

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has questioned rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon on the control of the stoat and goose population on Orkney, proposing a bounty for caught stoats.

The efforts to control stoats have been blocked by a number of landowners who have refused access out of a frustration over a lack of action on control of geese numbers. Orkney Native Wildlife Project, which is charged with controlling the stoat population and its impact on local wildlife and biodiversity, has underlined the urgency of tackling the stoat issue.

With stoat numbers expected to increase in comings months and spread to outlying islands, the Conservative MSP sought information from the minister on work with local farmers and what support the Scottish Government can provide bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage.

Jamie Halcro Johnston said:

“The goose population has caused real trouble for Orkney’s farmers and I understand all too well local frustrations. It is vital that the Scottish Government and its agencies act now to ensure that numbers are controlled.

“While it is entirely understandable that local farmers want to signal their anger – and will want real action to demonstrate that their concerns over geese control are being taken seriously - the efforts to control the stoat numbers on the mainland must also be allowed to succeed.

“I met with SNH last month and was pleased that they are looking at all options. In addition to moving forward to address the geese problem, I have also called for a small bounty for stoats caught on private land – to encourage landowners to allow access as soon as possible.

“The minister has agreed to meet with me to discuss these issues further, and I look forward to a constructive conversation to find a way forward.”