Klage: Norsk rovdyrpolitikk overfor Bern Konvensjonen

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Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats


Jenny Rolness

On behalf of:
NOAH – for dyrs rettigheter / NOAH – for animals rights

Osterhausgt. 12
0183 Oslo



Fax: 22114163

E-mail: info@dyrsrettigheter.no
Web site: www.dyrsrettigheter.no

1. Please state the reason of your complaint in detail (refer also the Contracting
Party/es involved).

Our reason for complaint is Norway’s conservation of the critically endangered specie; wolf, the endangered species; brown bear and wolverine, and the vulnerable specie; lynx.

Norway has agreed, by signing the recommendations of this convention, to recognise that wild fauna constitute a natural heritage of aesthetic, scientific, cultural, recreational, economic and intrinsic value that needs to be preserved and handed on to future generations, and recognised the essential role played by wild flora and fauna in maintaining biological balances.

Particular emphasis in the convention is given to endangered and vulnerable species. The Contracting Parties shall take requisite measures to maintain the population of wild flora and fauna at, or adapt it to, a level which corresponds in particular to ecological, scientific and cultural requirements.

NOAH refers in particular to chapter III – Protection of species, article 6:

Each Contracting Party shall take appropriate and necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure the special protection of the wild fauna species specified in Appendix II. The following will in particular be prohibited for these species:

a. all forms of deliberate capture and keeping and deliberate killing;
b. the deliberate damage to or destruction of breeding or resting sites;
c. the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation, insofar as disturbance would be significant in relation to the objectives of this Convention; (…)

Since January the 1st 2009, Norway has allowed the shooting of 75 bears, 46 lynxes, 40 wolverines and 21 wolves. Fortunately, not all of these permissions lead to killings. In the period from autumn 2008 to spring 2009, 136 lynxes and 90 wolverines were shot, including some who died from other reasons. Most of the wolverines were hunted during their period of breeding, using helicopter, killing the infants together with their mother in the den. The number of lynxes and wolverines killed last year in Norway is the highest number killed since the middle of 1800. So far in 2009, 17 bears and 3 wolves have been shot.

2. Which are the specific specie/s or habitat/s included in one of the Appendices of
the Bern Convention potentially affected? (Please include here information
about the geographical area and the population of the species concerned, if

The species mentioned – wolves, brown bears, wolverines and lynxes – are listed in the Appendix II.

Wolves are included on one or several international convention lists (Bern I, II, Bonn I, II, CITES I, II)
Listed as critically endangered on the Norwegian Red List, with very small population.

Brown bears are also included on one or several international convention lists (same as above).
Listed as endangered on the Norwegian Red List, with very small population.

Wolverines are included on the 2006 Global/UCN Red List.
Listed as endangered on the Norwegian Red List, with very small population.

Lynxes are also included on the 2006 Global/UCN Red List.
Listed as vulnerable on the Norwegian Red List, with very small population.

The populations of these species throughout Norway are estimated to 24-26 wolves, 120 brown bears, 321 wolverines and 477-543 lynxes.

3. What might be the negative effects for the specie/s or habitat/s involved?

These species occur in very small populations. Previous and current exploitation effects their ability to survive in Norway. Reduced genetic variation and demographic factors themselves are a threat to their survival.

Despite being listed as critically endangered, the Directorate for Nature Management and their delegates recently permitted Norwegian hunters to kill 4 wolves, in addition to the 3 wolves killed during the summer season in order to protect livestock. The killing of 7 wolves out of a total estimated number of 24-26 wolves, means that more then a quarter of Norway’s population of a critically endangered specie may be wiped out.

The mortality of all of the four species is high because of both legal and illegal hunt. According to criminal investigations, one out of two wolves are killed illegally. Despite this fact, the Directorate of Nature Management continues to give licence to kill wolves, both in order to protect livestock and to reduce the already declining population.

The Norwegian government’s goal for the brown bear population is 15 annual breedings. In recent years, only 3-6 annual breedings have been registered in Norway. Still the Directorate of Nature Management has permitted the killing of 18 male bears this autumn, in order to reduce the population of this endangered specie.

The reason for the massive killing of endangered and vulnerable predators in Norway, is the determination to give preference to livestock, especially sheep, in most areas. In the summer 2,1 million sheep are let out in the wilderness to fend for themselves. About 130.000 of these sheep die during the summer months – most of them for reasons as parasites, flies, poisoned plants, illnesses and injuries. In 2009, 384 sheep out of totally 130.000 lost, were killed by wolves. The total number of sheep documented killed by wolves, brown bears, wolverines and lynxes is estimated to 3000 out of 130.000 lost each year. However, the farmers get economically compensation for about 30.000 sheep supposedly killed by predators, about 27.000 of them compensated with no documentation of predators being the reason for their deaths.

In Chapter III – Protection of species, Article 9, several reasons are listed for Contracting Parties to make exceptions from the provision of Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and from the prohibition of the use of the means mentioned in Article 8, provided that there is no other satisfactory solution and that the exception will not be detrimental to the survival of the population concerned.

The extensive killing of wolves, brown bears, wolverines and lynxes in Norway, is the result of a deliberate policy to keep these species in very small populations, in order to avoid conflicts with agricultural interests. Instead of protecting livestock from predators and other factors causing suffering and death, the policy is to keep endangered predator species on a level close to extinction, to be able to produce cheap meat in the wilderness witn the smallest possible efforts in guarding the livestock. This is the solution chosen, not because there are no other satisfactory solutions, but because this solution causes the least trouble for people. It is definitely a solution that is detrimental to the survival of the populations concerned.

The Norwegian government has divided Norway into sectors/zones, some where the endangered predators are allowed in small numbers, and some where they are not tolerated at all. Despite the fact that these animals wander across large areas, they are easily killed when moving outside the strictly erected zones. This system doesn’t allow these species to increase into levels which are ecologically sustainable, and which may secure their prospective survival.

Norway has chosen to partly transfer the responsibility for the conservation of wolves and brown bears to the neighbour country, Sweden, where these species occur in more sustainable populations then in Norway. This disclaiming of responsibility to protect endangered species within the nation’s border, doesn’t seem to correlate with the provision of the convention.

4. Do you know if potentially affected species or habitats also fall under the scope
of other international Conventions, (for instance: RAMSAR, CMS,
ACCOBAMS, Barcelona Convention, etc) or if the area has been identified as a
NATURA 2000/Emerald network site?

The Convention on Biological Diversity affects Norway’s management of endangered species.

Norway participate and contribute in NATURA 2000/Emerald Network, and both wolves, brown bears, wolverines and lynxes are listed among the species Norway is oliged to protect.

The Council Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, is a directive for the member states of the Euopean Union, and doesn’t directly affect Norway currently. There are strong demands, also in some political parties, that Norway should implement this directive, in order to save endangered species from being deliberately gunned down by the authorities, some of them to the limit of extinction.

5. Do you know if there are any pending procedures at the national or
international level regarding the object of your complaint?

We have no information of any pending procedures at the national or international level regarding the object of our complaint

6. Any other information (existence of an Environmental Impact Assessment
(EIA), size of projects, maps of the area, etc)

Norway has, through governmental agreement and on the basic of this convention, decided to protect wolves, brown bears, wolverines and lynxes in sustainable stocks, and has determined the numbers of breedings necessary to secure the species in sustainable popoulations. Despite that the goal is far from reached considering the brown bears and the wolves – with only 3-6 annual breedings of the determined 15 annual breedings of brown bears, and with only 1 registered wolf breeding this year of the determined 3 annual breedings – they continue to give licences to kill a number of these animals in order to reduce the already very small populations. We find this governanced extermination of endangered species extremely alarming and not according to national and international agreements.

A recent declaration has worsened the situation. The Norwegian declaration, “Soria Moria”, presented on October the 7th 2009, announced that the government will develop a new model for estimating the population of wolves and brown bears. The number of breedings necessary to secure survival will be seen in a context of several years, instead of being annual goals, and the wolves with their habitat both in Sweden and Norway, will be counted among the Norwegian wolves, to obtain the goals easier, and allow more killing of the wolves with their habitat entirely in Norway. There will be a lower toleration for threats represented by predators in areas with livestock, and easier to kill both male bears and wolves outside the zones where they are permitted to stay.

As we see it, this will make the critically endangered wolf, the endangered brown bear and wolverine, and the vulnerable lynx a goal, not for protection, but for killing in the years to come, and we fear that the final result for all these species will be extermination.

October, the 13th 2009

NOAH – for animals rights
Jenny Rolness