Following the public consultation that the Game and Fauna Service carried out on 5 August 2016 regarding the hunting law amendment and the regulations on captive breeding and dog training areas, BirdLife Cyprus had a meeting with the Head of Game and Fauna Service, Mr Pantelis Hadjigerou, on 31 August 2016 to discuss in detail the proposals of the Game and Fauna Service and to clarify our positions and why we oppose many of these proposed amendments. This meeting was also attended by organisations Terra Cypria and Friends of the Earth Cyprus.
Following the meeting, BirdLife Cyprus submitted its comments to the Game and Fauna Service as part of the public consultation process, expressing once again our concerns to the majority of the proposals in the law amendment of 152(I)/2003, and that they would be disastrous for the sustainable management of game and the conservation of wild birds and completely ineffective with regards to better combating of poaching and illegal bird trapping in Cyprus (read our position note here – only in Greek). Moreover, BirdLife Cyprus submitted a position note on the regulations on the ‘Possession of Breeding species of Wild Birds or Wildlife’, which you may read here (only in Greek).
The revised hunting law amendment and regulations, prepared by the Game and Fauna Service following the consultation process, were discussed at the Environment Committee of the Cyprus Parliament on 21 September 2016. Sadly the revised hunting law amendment included the majority of the original proposals, and the Game and Fauna Service did not take into consideration most of our concerns and feedback (apart from the written warnings that the Game and Fauna Service adopted our recommendation to some extent).
These catastrophic proposals include:
- the on-the-spot fine regulation for all offences,
- the possibility to use air rifles for hunting,
- the introduction of falconry,
- the legalisation of the practice of ‘feeding’ grounds (carried out particularly for turtle doves and wood pigeon hunting in Cyprus)
- the legalisation of the use of artificial decoys as bird models and mechanical calling devices for hunting, and
- the legalisation of the consumption (but not sale) of game in restaurants so that hunters are permitted to take their game to restaurants and to consume it there.
BirdLife Cyprus stressed at the Parliamentary discussion that it is not satisfied with the outcome and still opposes the majority of the proposals in the updated hunting law amendment. BirdLife Cyprus submitted a position letter to the Environment Committee, explaining our concerns and detailing the reasons why we believe the abovementioned proposals are in breach of the Birds Directive and/or are relaxations to the existing legislation (read here – only in Greek). It should be noted that other stakeholders, including government agencies such as the Department of Forests and the Public Health Services, disagree with specific proposals as well. In particular, the Public Health Services are seriously concerned and disagree strongly with the legalisation of the consumption of game in restaurants by hunters, as such a provision would make it practically impossible to safeguard the health and safety of the consumers from possible contamination of other food from game brought by hunters, since no check would be carried out on it.
The updated hunting law amendment and regulations will be discussed in closed meetings from now on between the Members of the Environment Committee, the Game and Fauna Service and the Legal Service of the Republic of Cyprus. We will continue our lobbying effort against these unacceptable proposals, aiming to avoid further relaxation of the current legislation and to avoid the adoption of provisions that are in direct conflict with the provisions of the Birds Directive, which if voted for could cause the Republic further headaches with the European Commission.