Progress – but Findhorn wildfowling talks fail to reach agreement

Findhorn Wildfowling talks fail to reach agreement
Findhorn Wildfowling talks fail to reach agreement

THREE HOURS OF talks between rival campaign groups in the Findhorn Bay wildfowling row produced no clear-cut decisions on Monday.

Representatives from both sides of an issue that has split a local community attended a meeting at the Elgin Library aimed at finding a compromise solution.

Protest group Friends of Findhorn Bay have petitioned Moray Council for an end to the shooting of Ducks and Geese in Findhorn Bay, insisting that the sport does not sit well with the areas nature reserve status.

On the other side, wildfowlers have gathered support for a petition of their own, insisting that shooting has been a part of the region for many years and there is no reason for the rights of shooters to be brought to an end.

When both sides emerged following the Council-brokered meeting there was no clear decision to announce – although the leader of the wildfowler group said that they had moved from their previously entrenched position “for the sake of compromise”.

Martin Gauld said that wildfowlers would be prepared to agree a Council-sponsored proposal that the existing no-shooting zone should be extended, saying that they had shifted their position as they felt they were at risk of losing shooting altogether.

He said: “We have volunteered to increase the no-shooting zone – although not as far as some had suggested. This is on a voluntary basis for now and nothing is set in stone.”

However, anti-wildfowling campaigner Lisa Mead insisted that their preference remained a total ban on wildfowling on the nature reserve – but would be prepared to work with wildfowlers before the next hunting season begins later this year.

Ms Mead said that the limited extent of a no-shooting area extension being proposed by wildfowlers “just is not going to work” as it would do nothing to improve the situation in the south-east corner of the area.

“We want there to be some substantial improvement on the status quo by the time the shooting season begins in September” she said, adding: “There seems to be little recognition by wildfowlers of how shooting on the bay excludes the majority of people from enjoying the nature reserve and watching the great migration of Geese in the autumn.”

The next stage of the talks will involve Moray Council writing to both parties seeking their views on how a new permit system might work in practice.