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Policy actions  1 of 4

Species management

We are sometimes required to manage species for a number of reasons, including:

  • conflicts of interest involving native species: when the behaviour of a species brings it into conflict with people’s interest or with the conservation of other species or habitats; for example, where wild geese are present in high numbers they can cause serious damage to pasture or crops
  • sustainable use of species: where a species in the wild is a resource of social or economic benefit; for example, management of deer prevents damage to habitats and provides venison, a source of healthy, low-fat meat

This page provides further information on our policies for managing the following species:

Geese

The wild goose population has been growing since the 1970s, and causing damage to crops in some areas. As a result, many farmers and crofters regard geese as agricultural pests.

We introduced a national policy framework for goose management in 2000 to help balance agricultural and conservation interests.

Local geese management schemes

Where geese are present on agricultural land, the initial responsibility for minimising damage to crops and grass rests with the farmer or crofter who should take appropriate steps by scaring and, where appropriate and legal, shooting geese.

Where this is impossible due to the number of geese or their protected status, a local goose management scheme may be considered as a way of minimising losses to farmers while ensuring that Scotland fulfils its conservation obligations.

Most schemes provide payments towards the maintenance of disturbance-free feeding areas, while encouraging geese scaring in other areas of land.

There are five local goose management schemes in Scotland which focus on migratory species and operate during winter and spring:

  • Islay
  • Kintyre
  • Solway
  • Strathbeg
  • South Walls

These were developed by local goose management groups within the national policy framework, and are funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

There are a further two schemes focused on resident populations of greylag geese, which operate during summer:

  • Uists
  • Tiree
  • Coll

National Goose Management Review Group

In May 2000 we set up the National Goose Management Review Group (NGMRG) to implement the national policy framework and advise Scottish Ministers on goose management in Scotland.

The NGMRG also ensures that local goose management schemes implement the national policy framework at a local level. The group evaluates proposals for new schemes and carries out annual assessments of existing schemes. Scottish Ministers decide whether to approve the establishment or continuation of individual local goose management schemes.

Goose scaring

We worked with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) to create the managing geese on agricultural land information sheet, to explain what can be done to scare and manage different varieties of geese.

Find more information on geese management on the SNH website.

Gulls

We recognise that urban gulls can cause problems for residents and businesses, and have commissioned work to develop possible solutions. This includes:

Dumfries and Galloway Council are undertaking a long-term free egg and nest removal programme in Dumfries and the task force evaluates data gathered from this work annually. If the programme is successful, it could form the basis of advice for tackling gull problems across Scotland.

The European Commission’s Birds Directive requires that all wild birds are protected, however Scottish Natural Heritage can grant General Licences under Section 16(1)(i)&(j) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 that authorise the killing and taking of certain wild birds, including some species of gulls, for the purpose of preserving public health and safety and for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease. 

Foxes

Foxes have only limited protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but are protected from abuse and ill treatment by the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.

The culling of foxes is not prohibited, although the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 introduced a ban on hunting foxes with dogs.

In an agricultural context, the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 permits the control of foxes for the prevention of damage to crops, pasture, livestock, trees, hedges, banks, animal or human foodstuffs, or works on land.

In an urban context, owners or occupiers are responsible for dealing with urban fox issues on their own property. Most local authorities provide advice on how to deal with problems with foxes.

Deer

Deer management is regulated under the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996, as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

Scottish Natural Heritage and specifically the Deer Working Group advise Scottish Ministers on deer management.

Find more information on deer management on the SNH website.