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Protected species Swiss parliament makes it easier to hunt wolves, bears and ibexes


The reform will also make it possible to kill an overly familiar bear that repeatedly enters villages in search of food.  

(Keystone / Mario Riatsch)

Parliament has agreed to renounce adopting national level hunting regulations thereby allowing cantons to make it easier to hunt protected species. 

It took a special round of debates in both chambers to agree on the final wording of the controversial legal reform on Thursday.   

The revision of the Swiss Hunting Act will do away with restrictive provisions like authorisation of the hunting of a protected species only when it kills a certain number of sheep, for example. Instead cantons will have the freedom to decide when an animal must be culled after consulting the Federal Office for the Environment.  

However, certain condition must still be met. Cantonal hunting regulations should not pose a threat to the viability of the population of a protected species. There should be enough animals to maintain a functioning ecosystem and conserve species diversity. The management of wild populations should also be adapted to the situation at a regional level. The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats external linkwill be respected, according to the Federal Office for the Environment. 

Dilution of protections 

Concerning wolves, culling will be allowed from September 1 to January 31 and for the ibex from August 1st to November 30th. The government may extend culls to other protected species. The reform will also make it possible to kill an overly familiar bear that repeatedly enters villages in search of food.  

Action may be taken when an animal causes damage or poses a danger to humans but threshold for this has been lowered. All culls must be conducted by a hunter or game guard and action can be taken when the animals exhibit behaviour that attracts attention. There will be no possibility for appeal against cantonal decisions concerning animals that can be hunted. 

However, environmental and animal protection organisations, supported by the left of the political spectrum, have announced that they will collect signatures to force a nationwide vote on the legal amendments. 

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