A local government leader on the island of Hiiumaa has resigned after killing a fox cub, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reports.
Toomas Vannas, administrative head of the Kärdla rural municipality, killed the animal with a hammer after it had entered a sports shop in the island's capital, AK reported.
Vanna said that the animal had been cornered, making its behavior unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
Environment minister Rene Kokk (EKRE) has condemned the killing, calling the act indefensible.
Signe Kalk, volunteer at the animal defense league (Loomakaitse Liit), said that while Vannas' resignation was a good thing, there was no justification for his actions.
By no means all incidents of animal cruelty get similar publicity, she added.
"Cruel behavior usually takes place covertly. We don't see it, or only very minimally. What reaches us is the tip of the iceberg, but there's a lot," Kalk told AK.
Toomas Rõhu, deputy mayor of Hiiumaa, told AK it was necessary to specify what exactly had happened , and also what to do when wild animals find their way into human settlements.
Rõhu noted that a procedure is in place in Kärdla for catching foxes and other animals in a cage, then releasing them, but the recent incident, which took place last Monday, had gotten out of hand.
Rõhu added that Vannas regretted the incident, but he still had to go.
"The situation is such that it is not possible to continue the employment relationship," Rõhu said.
Aimar Rakko, head of the Environmental Board's (Keskonnaamet) hunting and aquatic life bureau, said that local governments often do not know what to do in such situations, adding that they should be caught and returned to the forest or their natural habitat.
Part of the problem is a lack of awareness of what the board can do in these cases, due to turnover in personnel in local governments
"There are solutions in place, but local government employees should not start looking for solutions themselves," Rakko told AK, noting that wild animals have often wandered into large cities like Tallinn and Tartu, and not just smaller settlements surrounded by sparsely populated hinterlands, such as Kärdla.
Environment minister Rene Kokk added via a press release that he hoped the incident would lead to an improvement on awareness of what to do in incidents of wildlife encroaching in towns.
The animal defense league and the animal rescue group (Loomapäästegrupp) have launched a petition aimed at improving animal welfare protection in Estonia, which has garnered over 41,000 signatures to date, AK said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte