Ministry amending beaver hunting regulations in Estonia following criticism

Eurasian Beaver.
Eurasian Beaver. Source: Pixabay

Conservationists have welcomed planned amendments to hunting regulations, particularly as they pertain to beavers. Up until now the animal had not received any protection, conservationists say, even as under European Union regulations it is a protected species.

Currently beavers can be hunted all year round.

Even expectant mother beavers are not under protection, though the new Ministry of Climate has pledged to make amendments to hunting regulations in Estonia more broadly.

Mati Sepp, chief of wildlife NGO Hoiame Loodust, told AK that: "The beaver is a protected species in an EU context, appearing in the fifth appendix of the directive, making hunting the animal if it is with cubs completely unthinkable."

"We drew attention to the fact that, first and foremost, this represents unethical behavior - that young animals, helpless young animals, and pregnant females, could be hunted as a result of a law like this."

Aveliina Helm, science adviser to Minister of Climate Kristen Michal, said of the ministry's plans that: "One thing that definitely needs to be resolved, for which the minister has already given an order, is to indeed more clearly state in the new amendment that it is hunting females with kits is expressly forbidden."

Conservationists had earlier complained that only private forest and hunters' lobby groups had been consulted when making changes to the hunting regulations.

"It is incomprehensible to me how such large-scale decisions affecting society can be made in such a way that only parties representing business interests are involved," Sepp said of this development.

Tõnis Korts, CEO of the Estonian Hunters' Society (Eesti Jahimeeste Selts) said: "This amendment which was made now actually provides the opportunity to hunt at man-made water bodies – drainage systems - all year round," adding that beaver activity here can lead to flooding – which Sepp said was in fact a positive thing as it helps retain water in forests and fields following the dry spring and early summer.

Korts said the amendment was preceded by the preparation of a protection plan which has been in effect for two years, while various interest groups sat down together for a lengthy period of time and discussed the options, he said.

Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber), a distinct species from their North American cousins, number around 20,000 in Estonia, according to some estimates.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Grete Teearu.

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