European Charter on Hunting European Charter on Hunting

European Charter on Hunting - what about Ukraine?

The Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Ostap Semerak, published on his Facebook page in 2017 the words that angered all hunters. «When hunters tell me that they are the greatest protectors of wild animals, since they are fed them in the winter or know the exact number of livestock, this argument is the height of cynicism. Feeding for what? To increase the number of animals or for a bloody hobby on adrenaline and blood? ... Let's together explain to hunters that hunting is the Middle Ages».

In developed countries of Europe, of course, there are also opponents of hunting, but instead of introducing theories like absolute reserve, there at the level of environmental specialists the concept of sustainable development is actively promoted. This adequate response to the processes of degradation of nature does not at all imply the need to stop using natural resources, including wildlife. In addition, the hunting industry, which aims at the rational use of wild animals, fully corresponds to the concept of sustainable nature management.

The sustainable use of biodiversity components is also one of the main objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The sustainable use of wild natural resources is an important tool for the protection of nature, because its socio-economic utility encourages people to protect these resources. So, in Europe no one is ashamed that they are protecting the resources for their further reasonable use, this necessity is recognized also by this largest international environmental organization. So why in Ukraine protection and feeding by hunters of representatives of wild fauna is perceived at the level of the Minister of Ecology as the pinnacle of cynicism, because then some of these animals are legally extracted by hunters?

In 2004, the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted Recommendation 1689. This document recommended inter alia that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “draw up a European charter on hunting, as a guide setting out common principles and good practices for hunting”. In 2007 the Standing Committee  of Bern Convention recommended contracting Parties to the Convention, and invited Observer States and Organizations, to take into consideration the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity and apply its principles in the elaboration and implementation of their hunting policies so as to ensure that hunting is carried out in a sustainable way (Recommendation #128).

Charter says, that maintaining hunting itself as an accepted social, economic and cultural activity. Sustainable hunting is conducted in such a sustainable manner, it can positively contribute to the conservation of wild populations and their habitats and also benefit society.  IUCN in Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives says that sustainable hunting can be a part of environmental programs even for the conservation of rare and endangered species of wild animals. So in developed countries do not believe that hunting is a hobby of the Middle Ages.

What is the situation in Ukraine, where the Ministry of Ecology considers the hunt for the Middle Ages, and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy is more occupied with problems of farmers than hunters. Let's illustrate with an example of several of the 12 principles of the Charter.

  • Favour multi-level governance that maximises benefit for conservation and society. Conservation will be enhanced if regulators and managers encourage the creation of policies and structures that reduce conflicts and create synergies between hunting and other conservation interests, reward best practices (e.g. with subsidies or privileges), and regulate against malpractice.

Ukraine: hunting farms not only do not receive subsidies and benefits, but constantly face obstacles to normal business activities. Hunting economy does not receive financing from the state budget at all, and conflicts with animal protection organizations are not smoothed out, but are fired by authorities.

  • Ensure that regulations are understandable and respected. Inappropriate (including incomprehensive or non-applicable) regulations may induce negative effects (e.g. illegal killing) if non-compliance is simple and rewarding, or if the rationale behind these is not understood. Regulators and managers have transparent regulatory processes that allow for the active participation of hunters and other stakeholders; Hunters embrace self-regulation where possible.

Ukraine: hunters are not attracted to the development and discussion of regulatory and legal acts that regulate the activities of hunting grounds, the position of Ukrainian hunters is ignored by the government and deputies. This, in particular, leads to the emergence of conflicts, because laws are written by those who are not related to hunting.

  • Ensure that harvest is ecologically sustainable. The conservation status of species needs to be maintained at levels which are robust enough to sustain harvest. Sustainable use requires regulation based upon the active use of reliable science and local knowledge. Regulators and managers cooperate with hunters to develop and apply methods for simple and effective monitoring and management of populations, habitats and ecosystem services. Hunters assist in population monitoring and research, ensure that populations of target game species are kept at optimal levels relative to their habitats, species communities and any biodiversity restoration targets.

Ukraine: users of hunting grounds have the right to receive a limit for the seizure of animals only if the minimum allowed number of species is exceeded. However, this principle is fulfilled by us one-sidedly, for example, the offer to help in conducting research on the state of the elk population on the part of hunting farms was not supported by the authorities.

  • Maintain environments that support healthy and robust populations of harvestable species. Regulators and managers develop mutually agreed systems that motivate hunters to help conserve habitats and landscapes with their associated fauna.

Ukraine: there are no incentives for the protection of habitats for animal species. Moreover, on the territory of lands or compatible territories illegal logging, amber mining, coal burning in pyrolysis furnaces are carried out - the authorities not only allow this illegal activity, but also do not come up with legislative initiatives that would make it possible to prosecute for illegally obtaining animals.

  • Encourage use to provide economic incentives for conservation. Stakeholders can be motivated to conserve wild species and their habitats by recognizing their inherent economic value. Regulators and managers understand that suppliers of harvest opportunities expect fair compensation for the services and opportunities they provide. Hunters are willing to make reasonable contributions for access and hunting opportunity, as well as the conservation and management of game and their habitats.

Ukraine: users of hunting grounds invest millions in the development of hunting economy, hunters pay money for the opportunity to obtain an animal. How does the government act? For example, a license for the hunting of moose was worth 2,000 hryvnias, therefore, in the hunting season of 2017-2018 hunting enterprises were to contribute 640,000 hryvnias to the budget for hunting licenses of this specieы, they should receive more than 9 million hryvnias of income from such hunting. Without the availability of scientific research on the number of moose (which number in Ukraine is actually growing), he was included in the Red Book. Since the list of Red Book species reviewed once in 10 years, you can calculate what losses will be inflicted on the state and the industry during this time. These are our economic "incentives" for those who protect the moose.

  • Competence and responsibility are desirable among users of wild resources. Regulators and managers encourage and facilitate education and training programmes for hunters, cooperate with organizations that coordinate hunters to engage with all participants, including recruitment from both sexes, all ages and backgrounds.

Ukraine: there are no courses for training candidates for hunters, since 2015 we have canceled the specialty of "hunting farming", it is forbidden to talk about hunting for children in educational institutions. That is, while Europe notes the need for comprehensive education in hunting matters, Ukraine follows the path of lack of education.

  • Encourage cooperation between all stakeholders in management of harvested species, associated species and their habitats. All stakeholders can contribute positively to the proper management of biodiversity through cooperation. Such cooperation promotes a synergistic role for sustainable use in broad conservation efforts whereas conflicts waste human resources.

Ukraine: Minister's appeal to the environmental community, which we gave at the beginning of the article can hardly be called an attempt to prevent the conflict or support understanding of the hunting.

  • Encourage acceptance by society of sustainable, consumptive use as a conservation tool. In order to ensure acceptance by society, it is important that all users of wildlife communicate to the public the benefits sustainable use has for biodiversity conservation. It is also essential that all stakeholders to work together to educate the public regarding important conservation issues. Regulators and managers provide a framework which ensures the long-term acceptance by society of the conservation benefits derived from harvesting wild species.

Ukraine: not only the Ministry of Natural Resources, but also the central authority in the hunting economy - the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, does not make any efforts for public perception of hunting, the role of hunters in preserving the wild nature and the formation of their positive image.

Having read the principles of the Charter, we would like to once again note: "as in Europe," this is not to follow the path of prohibitions only; it is a road of close cooperation, understanding and all-round support for an important branch of the economy - hunting. The intelligent world, even sitting in comfortable offices among megacities, recognizes the right of hunters for the harvesting of wild animals, their desire to communicate with nature, the preservation of traditions, and does not seek to deprive this right.

Which path will Ukraine choose? The way of a rational and scientifically sound policy of hunting economy, which will become the basis for its development, enriching wildlife and wildlife. Or the way of unreasonable and ill-conceived prohibitions that do not contribute to the protection of national interests and the preservation of nature for our descendants. Hunting society will make efforts to Ukraine chose the first path, and came to the civilized world, even despite the unwillingness of the authorities to follow European principles and support hunting.