Ban the shooting of Greenland White-fronted Goose
  • Petitioned Welsh Assembly Government

This petition was delivered to:

Welsh Assembly Government
Welsh Assembly Government
Minister for Natural resources and food
Alun Davies (Minister for Natural resources and food)

Ban the shooting of Greenland White-fronted Goose

    1. aaron davies
    2. Petition by

      aaron davies

      swansea, United Kingdom

The Welsh Assembly Government earlier this year took the decision not to ban the shooting of an endangered species, the Greenland White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons flavirostris), meaning that Wales remains the only country on the flight path of this endangered species where they can still be legally shot and killed.

The Greenland White-fronted goose is the most distinctive of the circumpolar white fronted goose and breeds in west Greenland and migrates via Iceland to exclusively winter in Ireland and Britain. Research by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), using GPS recorders, has shown that their epic migration includes an incredible flight up and over a 1.5 mile high ice cap.

The population of these geese, as a whole, is declining and they have been of conservation concern since the late 1970s when sharp declines triggered protection from hunting on their wintering grounds. They receive heavy statutory protection and are listed on Annex 1 of EC Birds Directive and Schedule 2 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended as well as being considered endangered under IUCN Red Data List criteria. However, since the mid 1990s the population has again declined sharply. According to the WWT, numbers have dropped from over 35,000 to less than 25,000 birds in a decade and in 2010 they became one of the first sub-species to be red listed in the UK Birds of Conservations concern report.

Scientific evidence has shown that the species is extremely vulnerable to hunting pressures and international agreements identify that any additional risk of mortality or disturbance on both breeding and wintering grounds are unacceptable. Whilst very small numbers regularly over winter in Wales, Welsh wintering birds, according to the Welsh Assembly in their own recent consultation report, are crucial to maintenance of the national and international distributional range of their population. In their consultation report, the Welsh Assembly also admit that failure to take appropriate steps to reduce as far as possible Greenland White-fronted geese adult mortality could be seen as a failure to meet both international and domestic conservation obligations. But unlike Scotland, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland where they are fully protected, there is no current ban on the shooting and killing of this endangered bird in Wales. A voluntary ban is in place on part of the Dyfi estuary in Wales but there is evidence that the geese also use other areas away from the estuary in mid and North Wales where no voluntary agreements are in place. As it currently stands the situation in Wales is concerning; for the Dyfi estuary itself the numbers have dropped from 167 individuals arriving in 2000 to just 55 birds last winter. Many former wintering grounds for these birds have already disappeared and their existing range in Wales has already declined markedly.

Conservation charities and other organisations have been pushing for a complete ban but earlier this year the Welsh Government decided against this, merely preferring an extension of the existing voluntary protection on part of the Dyfi Estuary going against advice from the RSPB and the Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS) among others who have stated that only an outright ban can ensure the birds protection. So at present, Wales has the distinction of being the only country in the bird’s range where they can be legally shot and killed even though they admit that they are obligated to give this endangered species adequate protection. The RSPB, WOS and other conservation organisations expressed their shock at this decision not to build on previous initiative with regard the voluntary ban and introduce full legal protection across Wales.

In a consultation earlier this year, the WOS set out why Greenland White-fronted Goose should be protected. Their statement said: "Although removing any species from the 'huntable list' reduces the availability of quarry to the wildfowling community, where there is a clear scientific case that hunting cannot be undertaken in a sustainable fashion, this has to be the responsible action of government. There is a very strong scientific case that hunting of Greenland White-fronted Geese on the wintering grounds is additive to normal levels of mortality, based on studies at Wexford Slobs in Ireland, where the difference in population size from one year to the next matched the predicted change in numbers where hunting was factored in. In other words, every goose shot was not part of a 'huntable surplus' that would have died from other causes in any case, but in addition to other sources of mortality and meant one less goose the following year."

While WOS has acknowledged that long running voluntary bans on shooting are in place at some wetlands such as the Dyfi Estuary, it believes that nothing less than a statutory ban on shooting will ensure its protection. The society is concerned that any voluntary ban could be lifted at any time and that the current approach does not cover all the sites where this declining subspecies spends the winter.

WOS President, TV presenter Iolo Williams, said “There is a very strong scientific case to ban the hunting of Greenland White-fronted Geese. Studies on their wintering grounds at Wexford Slobs, Ireland, clearly showed that the geese are extremely sensitive to hunting mortality.


Welsh Assembly Government, Welsh Assembly Government
Alun Davies (Minister for Natural resources and food), Minister for Natural resources and food
Ban the shooting of Greenland White-fronted Goose

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Next Petitions Committee meeting - 1st July

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      The petition will be considered at the next Petitions Committee meeting on Tuesday 1 July 2014. It should be avilable for viewing on the WAG website. They also asked for more evidence to support the petition.

      Below is evidence submitted by Mick Green Council member of the Welsh Ornithological Society.

      Shooting of White-fronted Geese in Wales – evidence from the
      Welsh Ornithological Society to the Welsh Assembly Petitions

      The Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS) is a membership organisation that promotes the conservation of birds and their habitats across Wales. The Society encourages the study of wild birds and a high standard of bird recording in Wales through its publications, annual conference and grant scheme.

      The Society was pleased when the Welsh Government appeared to take the initiative to cease the hunting of White-fronted Geese in Wales. We were very disappointed when, despite the overwhelming evidence presented, the decision was made to continue the current lack of protection.
      This is the only area on the flyway where this species is not protected. While WOS acknowledges the role of the shooting fraternity in the long running voluntary bans on shooting in places such as the Dyfi, we would like to see a statutory ban to ensure protection of this species. Whilst the voluntary ban has worked well on the Dyfi, there is no guarantee that it works everywhere the geese might stage, and not all wildfowlers are members of BASC and therefore not necessarily signed up to the ban. Between 1998 and 2010 a total of 29 Greenland White-fronts were shot on Anglesey. With the current decline in the population this is not sustainable - there is a very strong scientific case that hunting of Greenland White-fronted Geese on the wintering grounds is additive to normal levels of mortality, based on studies at Wexford Slobs in Ireland, where the difference in population size from one year to the next matched the predicted change based on perfectly additive mortality in the population. In other words, every goose shot was not part of a “huntable surplus” that would have died anyway from other causes, but their loss was in addition to other sources of mortality and meant one less goose the following
      year. As a result, the population is extremely sensitive to hunting mortality, and this was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the steep annual decline in population size through the early 2000s was arrested to a large extent following the cessation of hunting in
      Iceland in 2006.

      Wales and England are the only two states where hunting is theoretically legal (and only as a result of a legal anomaly). This is despite the need to remove all sources of avoidable mortality agreed by the UK, Irish, Iceland and Greenland governments under the international population action plan for Greenland White-fronted Geese. The plan notes the international consensus “that hunting cannot currently be undertaken on a sustainable basis and any kill would exacerbate the current unfavourable conservation status of the population”. The action Plan also stresses the need “to take all possible steps to eliminate avoidable sources of mortality and disturbance, particularly shooting”. The scientific case for removing hunting completely to safeguard the population is

      We further believe that there should be a ban on the shooting of White-fronted Geese in Wales throughout the year. Although two races of White-fronted Geese occur in Wales, neither are common. The European White-fronted Goose used to be regular in Wales but is so no longer, and is becoming increasingly rare in the United Kingdom because of short stopping in continental Europe (where its conservation status is favourable), so there is a powerful argue both from the point of view of scarcity and risk of misidentification (since they are very difficult to differentiate in the field) to simply ban the shooting of all White-fronted Geese in Wales.

      We do not believe that continuing the status quo of a voluntary ban is sufficient for the Welsh Government to meet their international commitments under AEWA. Although poor reproductive success in recent years has been responsible for the unfavourable conservation status of the population in recent years, we cannot change factors operating on the breeding areas in Greenland that affect this. However, we know the rate of change in overall population size is dramatically affected by even small changes in survival, so even modest changes in reducing mortality can have dramatic effects on overall population size in this long-lived species.

      We therefore urge the petitions committee to take note of the overwhelming scientific evidence and the level of public support indicated by the petition. The Society is happy to provide further detailed evidence if required.

      Mick Green BSc, MA, CEnv, FIEEM. Council member, Welsh Ornithological Society.

    2. Response from Alun Davies AM

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      Rhodfa Padarn, Llanbadarn Fawr,
      Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3UR
      0300 062 2259
      Eich cyf/Your ref
      Ein cyf/Our ref TO/AD-/00504/14
      Aaron Davies

      Dear Mr Davies
      Thank you for your email of 16 March to Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources
      and Food, which highlights your petition regarding a ban in Wales on shooting Greenland
      White-fronted Geese (GWfG). I have been asked to reply on the Minister’s behalf.
      I refer you to the letter from Alun Davies of 8 October 2013 and my further response of 18
      November 2013 on this matter.
      I would like to reiterate that the Minister’s objective is the wellbeing and recovery of Wales’
      GWfG population and, if possible, its spread to other sites. This is most likely to be
      achieved by engaging everyone who can contribute to effective, practical activity.
      We are working with the Dyfi Wildfowl Management Advisory Panel to develop a work
      programme to help protect these birds and improve our understanding of them

    3. Reached 3,000 signatures
    4. Greenland white-fronted geese remain of the greatest concern

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      State of the UK Bird 2013

      The state of the UK's birds

      The State of the UK's Birds is a series of annual reports summarising the fortunes of bird populations in the United Kingdom. This is the 14th The state of the UK's birds (SUKB) report. Published in 2013, it contains results from annual, periodic and one-off surveys and studies from as recently as 2012.

    5. relief as rare geese arrive at rspb ynyshir two weeks late but for how long

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer
      At last! Relief as rare geese arrive at RSPB Ynys-hir two weeks late, but for how much longer?

      Last modified: 20 November 2013 The first Greenland white-fronted geese of the season have arrived weeks later than usual on the salt marshes of the RSPB Ynys-hir nature reserve in mid-Wales.

    6. BBC: Rare Greenland white-front geese arrive in Wales over a month late

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      BBC article on the Greenland white-front geese and their decline

      And an article from the opposing view: from BASC

      Also, please anyone who hasn't shared this petition already please do so in any format possible. Thanks!

    7. Reached 2,500 signatures
    8. excellent RSPB article on the the ban decision

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer
      Shock at decision not to ban shooting of rare geese - guest blog by Dr Sean Christian RSPB Cymru Head of Conservation

      Sadly, the Greenland White-fronted Goose (pictured below) is an increasingly rare sight in Wales. The only returning population of these attractive geese who spend the winter in Wales is found on the Dyfi Estuary, which was host to the BBC Springwatch programme for the last three years.

    9. Reached 750 signatures
    10. Original WAG consultation

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      Here is a link to webpage with original WAG consultation and summary of views

    11. Reached 250 signatures
    12. 96!!!

      aaron davies
      Petition Organizer

      almost there. Thanks very much. 100 is just a minimum though- please keep sharing

    13. Reached 100 signatures
    14. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Birgitt Böhm GERMANY
      • 6 months ago


      • 6 months ago

      Geese of any kind deserve to live, we r taking all animals, mammals, birds homes...GOD must be really mad

    • keith maxwell WREXHAM, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 7 months ago

      Ecology background, interest in wild fowl and birds

      • 7 months ago

      The Welsh Government has made a dire move in deciding against a complete ban. It's their job to help protect endangered species, not to endanger it further.

      • 8 months ago

      As an ex-patriate Welshman, it concerns me that the Welsh government is falling short of their obligation to conform to international agreements on the protection of the Greenland White Fronted Goose and call upon them to reconsider their position.


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