THE Scottish Government is to help out islanders facing problems due to exploding numbers of greylag geese.

Crofters and farmers on Orkney, Uist, Lewis and Harris, Tiree, and Coll are to be given financial assistance to prevent the birds damaging their crops after one area saw the population multiply by more than 17 times in two decades.

The Scottish Government is to provide £50,000 in further funding for existing adaptive management projects.

The projects, established by NatureScot in 2012, help local communities to control goose populations and reduce their impacts on agricultural activity and unique habitats, while retaining their conservation interest.

Environment and Land Reform Minister Mairi McAllan visited Orkney – where a population of around 1500 greylag geese in 2001 has exploded to 26,500 birds in 2021 – to announce the funding.

This increase in the population of resident greylag geese can cause agricultural damage to crops from trampling and grazing.

McAllan said: “I have listened to the concerns of farmers and crofters on Orkney, Lewis and Harris, Uist, Tiree, and Coll about the difficulties they have had in controlling resident greylag populations.

“I understand how serious the impacts can be for crofting communities, and for the unique machair habitat and biodiversity that their traditional form of agriculture supports.

“That’s why we are contributing up to £50,000 towards resident greylag goose control on these islands over the next two years to mitigate the impact on agriculture and support unique and important habitats.

“This is part of our wider approach to delivering more resilient and sustainable farming systems.”