14 April 1995

Sheep lose out to geese

DERBYSHIRE farmer Douglas Hibbert is losing valuable sheep grazing to Canada geese.

His grassland is being decimated by 2000 of the birds, which flock to his land from a nearby National Trust lake at Keddleston Hall.

Mr Hibbert, a National Trust tenant at Vicarwood Farm, Quarn-don, says the geese have caused "substantial damage" to the sward used by his 500 mule ewes.

"I have walked miles with a gun," he said. "Although I am not permitted to shoot them, I can fire over their heads to move them on. But they usually return later."

National Trust regional director, James Turner acknowledges that grazing has become a severe problem. "The geese are increasing by 8.5% each year, so something has to be done," he said.

Under ministry licence, the National Trust plans to cull the geese during the summer moult using a humane dispatcher which it developed after finding proprietary versions unsatisfactory.

Mr Hibbert hopes culling, combined with egg pricking, will save his grassland from further serious damage. Farmers needing advice on Canada goose control should contact James Turner on 0909-486411. &#42

Hungry Canada geese have deprived Douglas Hibberts 500 mule ewes of valuable grazing at Vicar Wood Farm, Quarndon in Derbyshire.