Wild Life Management System
Limitations to Hunting
Legal issues related to hunting are addressed in other parts, such as those on regulation of hunting, on licences and on ownership of wildlife. This section is limited to aspects which are not addressed elsewhere.
Among the most common protection rules are those which set out prohibitions applicable to hunting. These prohibitions are of different types. Limitations in the quantity of animals which may be hunted (for example under a single licence, or within a certain period) are not common in the principal legislation, as they are more frequently placed in subsidiary legislation periodically adopted or incorporated as licence conditions.
Limitations on time are quite common. Most laws prohibit hunting between sunset and sunrise. The fixing of open and closed seasons is also common, although more frequently through subsidiary legislation. At the time of adoption of the current law on hunting in 1992, Italy chose to establish hunting seasons respectively for various species directly in the law, allowing the regions to modify them, subject to certain conditions.
Regarding hunting methods and weapons, many prohibitions are common to most of the legislation which has been examined. This is the case, for example, regarding the use of drugs, poison, explosives, fire, as well as hunting from moving vehicles. Methods of hunting, however, are a typical part of local traditions and therefore additional prohibitions in this regard may vary greatly from one country to another.
In countries where hunting continues to contribute to subsistence, there are exemptions from prohibitions to hunt to allow traditional hunting practices. The Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals of 1979 already allowed exceptions to its regime for purposes which included the needs of traditional subsistence users of protected species.
In traditional African societies, prohibitions to hunt were usually not necessary, as hunting was often part of customary management systems which by their nature could rarely produce negative impacts on the conservation of wildlife Progressive settlement into stable areas brought about the suppression of rotation of hunting areas, but also changes of habitats, increase of agriculture, and subsequently the market economy. This implied also an incentive to destroy “noxious” animals, and generally a loss of respect for game. These various factors, and the tendency to establishing State ownership of land and wildlife resources, have caused the disappearance of traditional regimes of wildlife management and hunting, and have brought about the establishment of legislation setting out a number of hunting prohibitions. Exemptions from such prohibitions to allow traditional hunting practices are currently often limited to specified species (usually small game) and to the areas in which hunters live, excluding commercial purposes.
Assessment of Harmful Processes
Reflecting recent developments in international law, a number of domestic laws have started to require the assessment and mitigation of any processes which may be potentially harmful on wildlife, rather than limiting their scope strictly to protection and management. Malawi, for example, requires “wildlife impact assessments” for any “process or activity” which may have an adverse effect on wildlife. Although only the Minister may undertake the assessment, any person who has reason to believe that such an adverse effect will be produced may make a request to undertake it. The process leads to the submission of a report with recommendations on subsequent government action. In Uganda, persons wishing to undertake projects which may have a significant effect on any wildlife species or community must undertake an environmental impact assessment. China requires the monitoring of environmental impacts on wildlife and where harm to wildlife may be derived from any activities, the matter must be addressed jointly by the wildlife administration and the other concerned administrations.
Protection of Biodiversity
The protection and management of biodiversity have started to be addressed in numerous legal systems, either by incorporating relevant objectives in environmental or wildlife management legislation or by adopting separate specific legislation. Costa Rica is among the countries which adopted a specific law in 1998. The law sets out general principles and provides for the creation of a national commission to be responsible mainly for policy making and co-ordination among agencies. It also provides for the creation of a national system of conservation areas with the related administrative structure. Access to genetic and biochemical components of in situ and ex situ biodiversity is regulated, with a view, among other objectives, to safeguarding the rights of local communities to be adequately informed and, if they wish, object to the operations.
In its recent law on environment and biodiversity, Australia encourages the identification and monitoring of biodiversity, for the purpose of identifying and monitoring components that are important for its conservation and sustainable use, or that are inadequately understood, or of collecting other useful information, providing financial and other assistance for this purpose.
Most recent wildlife laws devote some provisions to management planning, spelling out the basic dynamics of the management process and addressing protection as well as sustainable exploitation. They often require the surveying of animal populations and habitats and the formal adoption of management plans. The following are some examples.
The Spanish law includes basic principles for the management of natural resources and biodiversity. It requires competent administrations to formulate natural resource management plans, with specified contents, and which are to prevail over any other planning instruments which may apply over the same areas. Hunting is subject to a “technical plan” aiming at the protection of game, to be adopted in accordance with regional legislation.
In Portugal, the Framework Law on Hunting requires the adoption of hunting management plans for areas which may be considered as a biological unit for determined game populations and in the case of significant passage of migratory species . It also requires that the hunting seasons be fixed based on the breeding periods of each species.
Cameroon’s decree of 1995 envisages the possible preparation of management plans for the sustainable utilization of one or more wildlife resources. It also envisages hunting plans which more specifically set out allowed hunting quotas and other conditions for hunting. Pursuant to the law of Guinea, species whose state allows it may be hunted in accordance with management rules which ensure the development or the maintenance of existing populations.
In Albania, the law provides for the preparation of wildlife management plans, based on scientific criteria, on which the yearly hunting plan should be based. In Lithuania, a national wildlife “cadastre” with relevant information on species, conditions, utilization etc., must be kept in order to ensure the rational use of wildlife. In Tajikistan, the law requires that action be based on monitoring and available data, some of which are to be supplied by “users of objects of the animal world”, as users have, among others, an obligation to register number and conditions of specimens taken or utilized.
In Malawi, the Minister must ensure that measures taken under the law be based on the results of scientific investigation, including the monitoring of the conditions of species and habitats. The grant of any right to use wildlife is subject to the applicable management plans. The law of China generally requires surveys of the state of wildlife, as well as monitoring of any environmental impacts on wildlife. There is also a requirement in the regulations to determine species which may be hunted based on the current situation of non-protected species and subject to the principle of sustainable utilization.
In France, pursuant to a law of 1993, a “national inventory of the biological heritage”, along with inventories at the local level, are kept . The provisions of the rural code concerning hunting require the adoption of a schéma départemental de gestion cynégétique, with the cooperation of owners, managers and users. The scheme is to include hunting and management plans, maximum number of animals allowed to be hunted, action to be taken with respect to predators, habitat conservation etc. For some species, plans are to be adopted at the national level.
In Italy, the National Wildlife Institute, a body established by law with research, training and advisory functions to the State and the local authorities, is in charge of surveying the state of wild fauna and its evolution and relations with other environmental components. All agro-sylvo-pastoral lands are subject to wildlife/hunting management planning, to be carried out by local authorities. Planning, however, is not expressly required to be linked to the results of the surveys. Furthermore, the law already establishes dates within which hunting of listed species may be practised every year, so little space seems to be left to planning in this regard. Modifications of such dates by the regions are allowed, however, in light of particular local requirements, subject to a positive opinion of the National Wildlife Institute and the prior adoption of adequate management plans.
This analysis shows that, in comparison with older laws which limit wildlife management provisions to basic prohibitions applicable to hunting, which were typical of previous years, considerable progress has been made. The laws referred to in these examples may act as significant management instruments, as they tend to guide administrations to adopt relevant decisions in a rational and transparent manner. However, sometimes the laws include the relevant requirements only in a fragmentary manner rather than in a logical sequence. The process would have to move from an assessment of the state of the resources, followed by the adoption of plans based on up-to-date findings and by management subject to the plans’ contents, but these simple steps are not always all clearly set out in the legislation. Another weakness is that some countries limit management planning requirements to hunting purposes and animals which may be hunted rather than extending to an overall wildlife management perspective.
Regulation of Hunting
Hunting plays an important economic and social role in many countries, where it may be a significant source of food and revenue. Even where this is not the case, it often remains a popular sport. In many European countries in which hunting is supported by powerful interest groups, wildlife management and therefore the adoption of relevant legislation tends to be the subject of a lively political debate. Often the issues at stake simply come down to the question of whether hunting should be allowed or not, whether generally or, more often, with respect to certain species or in particular areas or at certain times of the year. This has in practice tended to limit wildlife management to the dichotomy between hunting and non-hunting.
Although this is an inadequate approach, it is still reflected in some of these countries’ legislation, which in spite of formally addressing general wildlife protection, continues to concentrate mainly on species which are of interest for hunting. An example of this approach is the law of Italy, which formally addresses the protection of wild animals and hunting, but focuses on the latter and in any case is expressly limited to warm-blooded animals. However, a comprehensive law on wildlife management in under consideration.
Other European countries, among which are some of the Austrian Länder, Denmark, Finland and Germany, have distinct laws in place respectively on the protection of nature and on hunting. In these cases, ideally the general provisions on wildlife protection and management usually included in the former should be adequately integrated with the provisions on hunting. In some cases, however, the two pieces of legislation seem to act in isolation from each other, i.e. the one on wildlife protection operates under an express exclusion of species which may be hunted.
There have been, however, improvements of legal frameworks in this respect in recent years. It is interesting to note, for example, that in the Austrian Land of Styria the Law on the Protection of Nature, until an amendment of 2000, still conceived animal protection as separate from game management, establishing that wild animals which were under the threat of extinction or otherwise required protection should be protected, but expressly excluded game animals.
In any case, wildlife management regulation remains subject to pressures by at least three traditional lobbies, i.e. those of hunters, farmers and environmentalists. Among the subjects of debate are various practices usually supported by hunters (whose interests may sometimes coincide with those of farmers as regards hunting of species which are noxious for crops), and sometimes allowed by the legislation. One example is the debate over traditional hunting methods and the extent to which they should be authorized in sport hunting.
Other examples are the management of wildlife with a view to producing the best trophies, e.g. by establishing trophy-oriented hunting seasons, or game feeding, which causes the impairment of habitats by introducing nutrients, nibbling of forest regeneration, etc.
Another example is the practice of re-stocking of wildlife for hunting purposes, which tends to be allowed fairly frequently, while increase in wildlife populations should rather be obtained through a general improvement of wildlife and environmental management.
One last example is that of selective hunting (or culling) of particular species, even in protected areas, which could be justified in particular situations, but only as an exceptional option, to be kept under strict scientific control. In Italy, selective hunting may be authorized in protected areas – where hunting is generally prohibited – by authorized hunters, preferably local hunters, who must have followed a specific training course. The latter requirement, established by a 1998 amendment of the Framework Law on Protected Areas, helps to ensure that capable persons are involved; but as precise scientific criteria are missing, the issue remains subject to heavy political pressure.
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