Natural England (NE) has suggested that wildlife law may be changed to allow Canada geese to be sold as meat, meaning the bird could soon feature legally on menus in pubs and restaurants.
Thousands of the distinctive non-native geese are killed lawfully every year, but it is against the law to sell the carcases for meat.
However, the Government’s wildlife experts have now said that they want to change the bird’s legal status.
Matthew Heydon, NE’s senior wildlife licensing officer, said: “We have already raised with colleagues in Government that it would make sense to allow Canadas to be sold as a quarry species. We would not wish the birds to be killed for commercial reasons, but there could be interest for us to allow a certain number of sales.”
“No one thinks Canadas will fill supermarket shelves. But it is a non-native species and can be hunted. So there is a logic that it should be on a list of game that can also be sold.”
NE can already approve the sale of wild birds for food under a special clause in the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Using these powers, it currently allows a small number of people to sell black-headed gulls’ eggs to the catering trade.
Canada geese were first introduced by Charles II from North America for his London garden, now St James’s Park.
Numbers remained low until the 1950s. Figures from the RSPB estimate that there are now 100,000 or so Canadas in the UK.