Calls to allow hunting as barnacle goose damage doubles

The union representing farmers says more than 300 farmers have filed claims already this year for compensation due to damage caused by barnacle geese.

File picture of barnacle geese in flight / Credit: iStock

The union representing Finland’s farmers says that migrating barnacle geese have damaged crops on more than 300 farms and an area of 8,000 hectares – more than double the amount of damage done last year.

The Central Union of Agricultural producers and Forest Owners MTK says the geese should be removed from a protected species list so that farmers can shoot them as a deterrent.

Although barnacle geese are protected under EU law, they can be hunted to prevent damage in Sweden, Estonia and Denmark.

A citizen’s initiative which would allow hunting as a deterrent, was launched in May and has almost reached the 50,000 signature threshold to be forwarded to Parliament for consideration.

“It is completely unjustified that the barnacle goose is still a very strictly protected species. The Finnish government must take immediate steps to remove the barnacle geese from the scope of the Nature Conservation Act” says Timo Leskinen from MTK.

Most of the damage is concentrated on arable farms in North Karelia and southeast parts of Finland.

The migration of barnacle geese sees an estimated 130,000 leave their winter feeding grounds in the Netherlands and fly over southern and eastern Finland to their summer breeding grounds in Russia’s Arctic archipelago.

In addition to the migratory population some 30,000 birds nest in Finland.

Bird’s eye view of barnacle geese in a field in Kittee, North Karelia / Credit: MTK