Reflections from Julie
“On Thursday the 8th May we met with the Secretary of the Hunters & Fishing Association Alba, Bogdan Dragomir, at the offices of the Association in Alba Iulia. In Alba County there are 20 Associations with this being the largest one.
In Romania they have Hunting & Fishing Associations to which people must become members in order to hunt or fish. Each Association is self financing and income comes from annual membership fees (300 euro) and from hunting trips for guests who are mainly from Austria and Germany. Each area has its own fee based on the amount of ground it has. This particular association membership comprises of 800 hunters and 5000 fishermen and has 200,000 hectares of ground where they manage wild species.
They shoot wild boar, red deer, roe deer and foxes as well as birds including pheasants and partridges. Should there be a problem with bears then a special licence is required to shoot it but generally there would only be one a year. Lynx, wolves and bears are all protected species.
In order to become a member of an Association an application must be made and then a year’s training takes place within that Association. This involves studying about the animals, practical training, a medical and a written exam. Once the training is completed then a licence to hunt is granted. No one is permitted to hunt without being qualified to do so.
Once membership to the Association has been granted the hunter must apply for a permit for when he wants to shoot. He is required to go into the office to do so. Each year, in Springtime, counts of animals are carried out within each area by the Hunting Associations and these figures are given to the Ministry of the Forest who then dictate how many of each species are allowed to be or should be shot that year. For example in 2013 the roe deer count was 1089 and the Association were permitted to shoot 300. The red deer count was 250 and the wild boar was 600. The counts tend to be on the low side to prevent over culling and Bogdan felt that some of the counts that he was not responsible for appeared to be very low. For example he has an area of 9000 hectares were he recorded 20 roe bucks and 40 roe doe and someone responsible for the count on 14000 hectares only recorded 8 roe bucks and 6 roe doe. [Chris adds – official red and roe deer densities in Aiud combined are 0.6695 per square kilometer or for red deer alone only 0.125 per square kilometer (assuming I’ve done the maths right – 1,089 roe & 250 red in 200,000ha). In CALL area red deer numbers range from 4 to 20 per square kilometre].
The ground here differs quite considerably from what we have here in the CALL area – there are enormous areas of forestry and vast areas of fertile, cultivated farming land. The Associations are required to ensure that the animals do not encroach on the farm land and cause damage to crops. To prevent wild boar from feeding on the lush ground, and to help the mother pigs, they have feeding stations within the forests to give corn to the piglets. The Association can be liable for paying compensation to the farmer if it is proved damage has been caused by the pigs looking for food.
This was the first winter that a farmer had reported his crop of rape had been affected by roe deer; he had counted 60 in his field. Roebucks can also cause problems in orchards. (farming ground is not fenced in Romania). When wild boars are shot the meat must be tested and if there are no problems it is then shared out amongst the hunters.
In Romania the hunting season, in general, is shorter than in the Highlands of Scotland. The deer are more woodland orientated than here so therefore have a different lifestyle to ours. Seasons can be extended, by application, to combat damage to crops etc.
Bogdan said there are serious problems with poaching in Romania and it is the Court and Judge who decides what the punishment should be. In the Highlands we also have problems with poaching but to a lesser extent.
The Hunting and Wildlife Management seems to be well organised with strict controls over who and what is shot. As far as we saw the system works i.e. wildlife is managed in balance with farming and forest management and the hunting operation make a financial return to the state. However it also appears that the Hunting Association, who carry out the annual count upon which the state calculates the cull, have a vested interest in maintaining herd numbers. Whilst the association may have to pay compensation to farmers (and presumably woodland owners) if there is damage, anecdotal evidence from Girbovita
suggests that farmers do have problems with marauding boar and that the beaurocratic nature of the state system means it is very difficult to get compensation. Furthermore the cost, in terms of money and time, of joining the hunting association must make it difficult for ordinary farmers to join the association. There seems to be little opportunity for local people to take part in or benefit from wildlife management.
In Scotland deer counts are carried out by each estate, who also decide the cull according to their own objectives. Scotish National Heritage (SNH) monitors deer numbers and culls and have powers to intervene in certain circumstances.
In Scotland there are problems with marauding deer and no means of being able to claim compensation is available. In the CALL area there isn’t any particular conflict with arable farming but there is conflict with grazings and new woodland schemes. The deer are now coming closer and closer to residential areas so people who are unable to afford deer fencing struggle to protect their gardens and often give up trying to grow their own vegetables.
If the hunting industry in Scotland were to make a financial return to the State then perhaps all the monies raised could be used to pay compensation to the crofters for the damage caused by the deer, to replace fences etc. Funding could also be made available to households to erect deer fencing to enable growing fruits and vegetables. In the instance of marauding deer there are designated people who will shoot the deer that has caused damage. If the deer is then sold onto the Game Dealer the payment could also go into this fund.
Further information about this particular Association can be found by visiting their website:www.ajvpsab.ro”
“In Romania the principle is that those who have the right and privilege to hunt wild animals (ie the Hunting Association, which seems to a club with statutory privileges and responsibilities) also have (in theory) the responsibility of protecting farm and wood land from damage and – in theory – are liable to pay farmers (who in Romania are also forest owners) compensation if damage is done due to under-culling. This is quite different to the principle in Scotland.”