Police investigating death threats to Ness guga hunters

Guga hunters at the Point of Ness in 1990

MURRAY MACLEOD

Police have confirmed that they have launched an investigation after threats were issued against the guga-hunters of Ness.

The group of 10 men spend a fortnight on a rocky outcrop 40 miles north of Lewis every autumn to bring home the annual harvest of young gannets.

The men were due back home last night (Wednesday) with their haul of 2,000 solan geese, which are prized in the local area as a culinary delicacy – with each individual bird fetching around £13.

It’s a tradition that dates back centuries and is licensed by the Scottish Government as the annual cull helps control the huge numbers of nesting birds on Sulasgeir – ‘the rock of the gannets’.

However, over the years it has attracted the ire of animal rights activists who have repeatedly called for the “barbaric” practice to cease. Now they have taken it a step further by issuing threats to some of those connected with the hunt and the hunters.

A series of anonymous phone calls were made to people in the area which are understood to have originated in the south of England.

Police are currently investigating. “We have received a complaint and our enquiries are ongoing,” said a spokesman.

During the hunt, the men live in basic stone bothies on the rock, climbing down sheer cliffs to find the young gannets before preparing them for the trip home by fishing boat.