A ROBUST defence of the shooting of geese on Montrose Basin has been mounted by local wildfowlers in the wake of criticism of the activity in last week’s Review.
Reader Rob Morrison said he was “appalled and sickened” by the “slaughter” of geese during the winter months and questioned the legitimacy of the practice.
He said: “They arrive mid-September from Iceland to their winter breeding grounds and get slaughtered. Can someone explain the slaughter of wildlife and for what reason?”
But Charles Elphinstone, secretary of the Montrose and District Wildfowlers’ Association, this week said that Mr Morrison’s opinions “appear to be based on emotion rather than facts”.
He said: “The geese do not migrate to Montrose Basin to breed, as indicated in Mr Morrison’s letter. They breed in the Arctic regions each year and migrate south to escape the harsh Arctic winter weather and feed on Britain’s rich agricultural land.
“Montrose Basin is managed as a National Nature Reserve. The instigation for the creation of the Nature Reserve came originally from the Montrose and District Wildfowlers’ Association in the 1960s. A formal wildlife reserve was eventually created in 1976 and the existing Local Nature Reserve was declared in 1981. The reserve is run by a Management Committee, including representation from Montrose and District Wildfowlers.”
Mr Elphinstone added that goose numbers have risen steadily on the basin from under 10,000 to current levels, peaking at around 63,000 birds, and that breeding success is monitored in the Arctic each year which demonstrates that the international grey goose populations have been rising steadily.
He continued: “A small number of geese are harvested each year, providing a challenging and healthy pastime without impacting on the growth of the goose population. Far from being slaughtered, the few geese that are shot annually provide an excellent healthy low-fat food resource. The local tourist accommodation trade is boosted by revenue from visiting wildfowlers at a time of year when trade is quiet.
“The geese are thriving, in part due to the management of the reserve in which wildfowlers play a significant part.”