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The Romanian Environment Minister has come under fire for a new executive order that resumes trophy hunting of brown bears and wolves.
The Minister’s decision to reinstate lethal ‘population control’ and trophy hunting has prompted wildlife protection groups to heavily criticize the move.
The new executive order given by Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu comes less than a year after the conservation community commended Romania for introducing a ban on hunting of wild animals.
The temporary prohibition saved the lives of 1,691 brown bears, wolves, lynx, and wildcats, while the new hunting quota will allow up to 140 bears and and 97 wolves to be killed by the end of the year.
The new bear and wolf hunting order clears the way for trophy hunters to shoot bears and wolves.
Both local authorities and independent hunters have been given the permission to hunt, due to the animals being ‘a nuisance’.
According to the executive order, the shooting will be allowed only in the presence of ‘technical staff’.
EU legislation states that lethal population control is only permitted once all non-lethal methods have been exhausted – a requirement that is absent from Romania’s order.
Romanian Academy’s Commission for the Protection of Natural Monuments has called the lethal take ‘unjustified’ in the past, saying that it may be detrimental to the survival of bears and wolves in Romania.
Key scientists and experts are also against the move, stating that human persecution of carnivores can lead to greater conflict with humans and farm animals.
It will disrupt social structures and alters predation patterns, leaving these predators more reliant on farm animals as food, according to them.
Multiple wildlife and conservation organizations have urged the Romanian Government to rescind the order.
The organizations also suggest that resources are directed toward educational programs for the affected communities and non-lethal mitigation strategies.
Ruud Tombrock, executive director for Human Society International/Europe said that the change of policy is ‘clearly in response to strong lobbying efforts from the trophy hunting and animal agriculture industries’.
“The Romanian Government’s U-turn on the trophy hunting of brown bears is beyond disappointing,” he added.
CEO of Romanian conservation organization Agent Green Gabriel Paun also stated that the new order ‘just made it possible for trophy hunters to openly participate in these killings and sell the parts of the animals’ remains, shamelessly making a business out of it’.