Saturday, 27 February 2016 20:08

The end of a ‘quiet’ hunting season?

The island’s hunting season comes to an end on February 29. According to Game and Fauna Services Director at the Inte-rior Ministry, Pantelis Hadjigerou, it has been a quiet season as there were fewer migratory birds this year because of the mostly mild winter across the European continent.

However, some citizens will never call the season a ‘quiet one’. Once again, there have been numerous incidents of hunters shooting too close to private homes.

Definitions of safety seem to diverge greatly when it comes to hunting. A reader from the Yermasoyia area contacted The Cyprus Weekly, saying she had repeatedly asked hunters whom she and her fa-mily had encountered in residential areas, to not shoot there as several people were out walking in the area.

She was distressed by the hunters’ assurances that “there was nothing to worry about as they were shooting higher up”.

Another reader reported observing a hunter near her home, teaching his about six-year old son how to use his rifle. Following the worried citizen’s phone call to the police, the officers came to simply ‘have a word’ with the hunting enthusiast.

Less hunting activity
The Limassol District Officer of the Game and Fauna Services reported fewer complaints this year, but attributes this to the lower bird numbers.

“I don’t think it is because the attitude has changed; there has simply been less prey and fewer active hunters this season,” he says.

Hadjigerou says the number of renewed hunting licences was about the same as last year, with 42,000 licences issued. And like every year, there have been several hundred – about 350 – cases of reported illegal hunting, some of whom were fined on the spot, while others will be taken to court.

Depending on the offence, a fine of €1,000-2,000 may be given – the maximum being €17,000 and/or up to three years in jail.

Low priority given to illegal hunting
The Vice-President of the Cyprus Green Party, Efi Xanthou, would also not call this year’s hunting season a “quiet” one.

Xanthou says one of the main problems is that there is no possible way for the service’s district officers to cover the entire Nicosia area (or any other areas of the island), with one or even two patrol cars, leaving worried citizens on their own.

She recounts one citizen’s story of a gaming officer who became upset by her complaint, explaining that he was up in the Troodos mountains and that there was no way for him for him to attend to the reported case.

“The Green Party is not against hunting as such, but in Cyprus it (hunting) has turned into a huge shooting frenzy, for which there is not enough fauna and not enough people to control it.

“The lack of any screening of owners of shotguns makes the situation even more worrisome. Unfortunately the government does not consider illegal hunting an important issue,” concludes Efi Xanthou.

With colder winters and thus more migratory birds almost certain to return, one can only hope for them to be accompanied by a much-needed change of attitude towards illegal hunting on the island.

Contact details for district offices, which operate during office hours (Monday-Friday, 7.30am-3pm) along with 24/7 mobile numbers can be found here.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of February 26, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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